Friday, October 26, 2012

College Education Can Prepare Students for a Brave, New World in Journalism

The journalism profession was thrust into the spotlight in recent days. A homeless man may have gotten his big break in the radio industry, while a popular columnist and on-air personality in revealed that he was gay.
Ted Williams, a 53-year-old homeless man from Ohio, achieved overnight fame when a YouTube video of him boasting his rich vocal skills went viral. Within a few days, he has appeared on national television and has fielded several job offers, including a full-time gig with the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Thursday, longtime Boston Herald sports reporter Steve Buckley announced that he was gay in a column. Buckley, who also regularly appears on Boston's WEEI sports radio station, is one of the first well-known sports journalists to come out of the closet.
The recent news stories show just how diverse the journalism world is, and proves that talent - not socioeconomic background or lifestyle choices - can lead to a promising career. Thousands of students at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. are pursuing education in TV, print, radio and online journalism. Some schools offer concentrations in these fields, while many large institutions own their own newspapers, radio and television stations, which allow students to gain experience outside of college classes.
The journalism industry has drastically changed in recent years, as the emergence of social media and online news sources has hit more traditional mediums such as the newspaper and radio. In his commencement speech at the University of Michigan last spring, President Barack Obama said that is important - now more than ever - that future journalists uphold the ethics that they acquired throughout their college education.
"Today's 24-7 echo chamber amplifies the most inflammatory soundbites louder and faster than ever before," Obama said, quoted by The Huffington Post. "This development can be both good and bad for democracy. For if we choose only to expose ourselves to opinions and viewpoints that are in line with our own, studies suggest that we will become more polarized and set in our ways. And that will only reinforce and even deepen the political divides in this country."
Students who are skilled in these fields may consider pursuing freelancing opportunities or internships, which could help defray education costs. At some schools, internships and certain work experiences count toward college credits.

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