Getting a journalism job comes down to one thing: Experience.
Competence and ethics are also important qualifications, but those are learned through practicing the craft and refining it over years until the quality is high enough to be accepted in the professional world.
That’s why it is sad and irritating to see how many supposedly aspiring journalists go through their entire college career without working for their campus newspaper or getting internships at news organizations.
Students and the mass communications department share the blame.
Students need to have the forethought to realize they need experience to get a real job after graduation. Besides, performing journalism shouldn’t be a chore; if you’re getting a degree in the field, you should like it enough to get involved without coercion. The Advocate and most internships even pay (usually not well, but it’s something).
The mass communications professors also don’t put enough emphasis on the importance of experience – either on or off campus – when it comes to getting a job.
They don’t do enough to encourage or incentivize participation in The Advocate. With the dozens of mass communications students on campus, it shouldn’t be difficult to find people willing to write for the paper.
Yet, year after year, we struggle to fill our pages. Often, editors are forced to write several stories each week while trying to juggle classwork and other jobs.
The best possible solution to our conundrum is to have MSUM offer class credit for participation in The Advocate.
For broadcast journalism majors like myself, there is the co-curricular Campus News program, a 30-minute weekly show that airs on Prairie Public Television during the spring semester.
This is a great way for students to gain experience in their field during college, although outside internships and production assistant jobs are even more valuable for job seekers.
Using Campus News as a model, students graduating with certain journalism degrees should be required to write for The Advocate as a part of the programming in their majors.
This change wouldn’t be easy to implement, but not only would it improve the quality of this publication, it would force our mass communications graduates to get some experience before trying to start a career.
Even if the ambitious plan to integrate The Advocate into the mass communications program isn’t possible, we should, at the very least, increase compensation for writers and editors.
Meanwhile, meager pay and all, The Advocate is still a great place for mass communications majors, and any other interested students, to hone their writing, design and photography skills.
So to all aspiring journalists: Help us out and in doing so, help your own future.
Also, be sure to apply for summer internships. There’s no better way to get the experience necessary to enter this increasingly cutthroat industry.
BY BRYCE HAUGEN