Mark recently visited Kenyon College in the tiny town of Gambier, Ohio. Kenyon is a liberal arts college widely known for its very fine writing program. Writing, obviously, is an important skill for a journalist to acquire and maintain. But is journalism school a better way to prepare for a career in journalism? Or would it be better, perhaps, to pursue a liberal arts degree?
Watch this short video…and see if it helps you reevaluate your interest in pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in journalism.
You may prefer to read the transcript below.
I’m here now on the campus of Kenyon College in a tiny town of Gambier, Ohio. It’s not that far from Columbus. Kenyon is really well known for – well first of all, has an absolutely gorgeous campus. And when we came in we came in kind of the back way, and we came by the field house and this enormous Olympic size pool with towering windows; absolutely gorgeous new facility, new construction going on on campus. But aside from the environment, Kenyon is known for its writing program, creative writing is really big here, and writing across the curriculum is huge.
I bring this up because I just had a call the other day from my freshman year roommate from college, and he is a reporter with one of the Time Warner outlets and he – I was asking him, I said, look, what about journalism, should students major in journalism today in the 21st century? And he took pause for a minute, and he said, you know what, no, and here’s why. He explained to me that in his division, Time Warner had four interns this summer, and one of them was from a well known liberal arts college and three of them were from the most prestigious journalism programs in America. He said, hands down the person from the liberal arts college, best writer, really could do anything, did not need heavy editing, did not need a lot of guidance in terms of how to write and analyze and communicate; whereas the journalism majors, poor writers, even though they were going to some of the best journalism universities in America.
If you really want to be a good journalist you have to write, you have to be able to do that communication. Now, does that mean that every student goes to journalism school is not a good writer? No. But journalism school doesn’t tend to focus on writing, it tends to focus on the practice of the craft of journalism, and what is the role of a journalist in society. Those are all very important things, but if you’re going to be a journalist, obviously, on a daily basis you are going to be writing. So coming to a school like Kenyon getting a major in a liberal arts field, whether it’s the writing program or whether its economics or whether its government or history, if you’re going to be a journalist, having that broad background, even if it’s in science, my gosh, they’re tons of journalism openings for science writers. So if you want to be a journalist, if you want to be somebody who’s communicating the world to the public, then you have to learn how to communicate. So there is every reason to go to a great school like a Kenyon, or anywhere else where you can get very good training in how to be a writer, because that is what journalist does. So consider that. If you’re interested in journalism don’t neglect to think about a liberal arts education.