My first year as a Journalism student is coming to an end. So far there have been history essays, broadcast mishaps and the odd Journo’s night out, but what have I actually learnt about this degree? First things first, a Journalism degree isn’t easy.
Some people such as those on forums like TheSite.org have made their thoughts on having a journalism degree pretty clear by describing it as an ‘easy degree’, or as one poster referred to as a “Mickey Mouse degree.”
Believe it or not it’s hard work! We have had numerous assignments such as history essays, presentations and law assignments (yes, LAW which in its own right is hard work!). So to suggest that Journalism is an ‘easy degree’ is far from the truth.
Although everybody has their opinions, yes, some people may find the degree so far ‘easy’, some of us aren’t so lucky.
I for one have found some bits of this degree quite challenging. Unlike a few of my fellow students on the course, I did not have the privilege of studying a media-based subject at A Level or GCSE.
This could be considered as a disadvantage to me, as most journo students have had a firm grasp of the foundations of basic journalism. Me? I was taking it one slow step at a time.
Despite my lack of media qualifications, I do have some experience in the world of journalism. I wrote for my high school newsletter, did journalism as enrichment at college and had work experience at the Telegraph and Argus , where they allowed me to write whatever I wanted for their opinion column. I chose to write about celebrity photo scandals, something many might not consider that as a ‘serious’ piece of journalism, but hey, I had fun with it and was relevant to the news at the time.
This experience in journalism propelled my determination to get a job in the industry into overdrive. Thus, why I applied to do journalism as a degree, as I simply enjoyed it.
When I was doing my UCAS application, I didn’t just ‘pick’ 5 unis from a random point of a finger. I researched carefully and looked at the pros and cons for each uni.
I was even considering not doing a journalism degree at all.In the end, what made my decision was when I looked at the NCTJ website. This basically provided me with my 5 choices as it showed the universities which were NCTJ-accredited. The NCTJ stands for the National Council for the Training of Journalists, a body which “administers training to journalists, reporters and photographers for the UK industry.”
Why are these so important?
Basically, in order to improve my chances of getting a job as a journalist, if I went to a NCTJ-accredited uni, I would have the option of getting the ‘prestigious’ NCTJ qualifications alongside my degree.
Therefore boosting my employability. Therefore I would have more chance of getting my dream job. Therefore I would prove those who dismissed a degree in journalism as a “Mickey Mouse degree” wrong.
Helen Skelton, co-presenter of the world’s longest running children’s TV show, Blue Peter did a journalism degree. She expressed to the NCTJ, that without the NCTJ Law and public affairs qualifications, she would have struggled to get any work experience, which ultimately led to her first ‘proper’ job in broadcasting.
This was the final ‘push’ for me to apply for a journalism degree.
I chose UCLAN particularly because at the time it was accredited by all three of the bodies of journalism; the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), the Periodical Training Council (PTC – basically for magazines) and the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJEC – for those who want to get into broadcast).
These accreditations mean that if I wanted to go down any of these routes (newspapers, magazines or broadcast) I would have the opportunity to get ahead of other journalism students by getting accredited qualifications.
I went to both of the universities’s open days and found that UCLAN appealed more to me than Sunderland. Most of the lecturers are still in the industry, and as well as the theoretical side of journalism, there was a real practical element in UCLAN’s journalism degree.
So, what do I think of this degree?
I think that from my experience so far, it isn’t easy. The step from A Level to degree level is huge – and that’s with ALL degrees.
However, I have really enjoyed the Journalism Practice module – a module where I get to develop my journalism skills by writing news stories every week. The Electronic Journalism Practice module has allowed me to learn how to use a TV camera, record interviews using the microphone set and learn more about online journalism – hence this blog.
More importantly, this degree has reassured me that I did make the right choice when I applied for university. That a journalism degree is worth it as long as you make the effort. Just ask my lecturer Andy Dickinson, who believes that the perk of journalism degrees is time, and if used wisely, this degree won’t be wasted.
Albeit, a journalism degree isn’t for everyone. A journalism degree isn’t the only entry into the industry. But one thing’s for sure, a journalism degree is NOT an “easy degree.”
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