Expectations vs Reality of being a journalism student.

Being a journalism student is either met with “oh wow that’s great!” or a heavy sigh and a scorned look – as if someone’s saying in their head “why?” Journalism isn’t an easy sector to be in – the media are constantly criticised and I always find myself defending my passion and what I do on a daily basis.

Some may say that studying journalism is a cop-out subject, that it’s for people that don’t know what they want to do or that it is an easy subject – I’ve done a post on this – trust me it’s not. Here’s some of the expectations of being a journalism student vs reality.

All you do is write – it’s not that hard to learn.”

We do write, that is part of our degrees but we also learn many other things from media law, to shorthand and public affairs. Writing is one thing we learn – but we learn to do it well and learn to write in different styles. We also learn how to find our own writing style. Not really as easy as some people think.

You aren’t really in university that much because it’s such an easy course.”

It isn’t an easy course – see link above. And some people aren’t in university that much but I and so many others are. Why? Because you get out of university what you put in. My portfolio this year has expanded so much because I’ve tried everything and thrown myself into getting experience outside of my degree and it’s payed off!

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Presenting a radio show: © Copyright of Sophie Dishman.

“Getting work experience isn’t that hard.”

While that may be the case for some people, getting work experience can be quite difficult. Journalism is a competitive industry, as is the whole of the creative sector. You need to have something different and be able to be relied upon. There are a lot of internships and work experience but there’ll be hundreds going for them and you need to be able to shine.

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Working with LBC and the other Global brands for the EU Referendum: Photograph © copyright of Sophie Dishman.

You don’t need to learn a lot because it’s only writing.”

There’s so many elements of journalism – reporting, copy writing, photography and videography, editing, sub-editing, interviewing AND so much more! On top of that we have to learn media law, shorthand, public affairs and the other theoretical parts of journalism. Without those we wouldn’t be able to be journalists. It’s really important as a student journalist that you are the jack of all trades.

You just sit at a desk all day.

We all have to sit down and write the stories and do copy for news bulletins, but most of the time we are out and about getting information and speaking to sources – we’re out reporting in all weathers. I always say if you’re cold and it’s raining and you still love your job then you know you’ve made the right career decision! News doesn’t come to us, as a journalism student you quickly learn that you have to go and find the news. Once you get contacts they may come to you with news but that isn’t always the case.

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I can assure you I don’t just sit at a desk all day: © Copyright of Zoe Toase/for use only by me – Sophie Dishman.

Working your way up in student media is easy – you just need to get noticed.

I’ve had to work my socks off to be in the position I am now within journalism. I’ve worked on all of the student media platforms and put myself forward for opportunities and talked to everyone I can in order to have the portfolio and the experience I do now. It’s pretty damn hard to get noticed too because as I said you need to have something different. When I’m out on a job I see the same journalists and I’ve introduced myself to them – now they know my name, so you could say I’ve been noticed. But “being noticed” in this industry is a lot harder than you think.

Your days mustn’t be long at all.”

Oh how we all wish that were true – not. You quickly realise that journalism is not a 9-5 job. As a journalism student you have to balance your studies, practicing your skills as well as gaining experience in the industry. It can be tough to juggle for some. I’ve done two very long shifts but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being a journalism student means you’re always on “news alert.” You’re always looking for news so you never really switch off completely. I switch off now and again to have time to myself – but many of my days are long – but that’s the beauty of journalism – the news never stops.

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© Copyright of Sophie Dishman.

I do want to reassure you that if you are hoping to be a journalism student that it’s not the nightmare it’s cracked up to be. Journalism is such a rewarding career for so many reasons – which I’ll be doing a post about soon. I love being a journalism student – it’s the best decision I’ve ever made – and hopefully you feel that way too!


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