Journalism degree often worthless

Journalism CartoonI’ll never forget my first week of journalism school. I was told three things: there are no jobs in the industry, freelance is the only secure option, and marry rich because the pay sucks.
Any sane person would have veered away from the program. But my peers and I are still here. Ryerson’s journalism program is one of the best in the country. Having this on a resumé should grant us jobs, right?
Well, I’m now in my final semester of journalism and, to my dismay, those “myths” I was told in first year appear to be very much true.
A journalism bachelor’s degree isn’t worth what it used to be. We’re getting beat out by master’s students and, even worse, bloggers are stealing our non-existent jobs. Many of those bloggers sure as hell do not deserve to be hired by organizations like the CBC.
The fact is, people with a bachelor of journalism under their belt are not only competing with each other for jobs, but are now competing with those who haven’t even studied journalism, all thanks to the Internet.
Bloggers have come into our realm and stolen the spotlight. Thanks to social media and the rise of blogging, everyone is a writer and a journalist, despite not knowing the nitty gritty of proper reporting. But, at the end of the day, they’re the ones getting the jobs.
It doesn’t matter if you’re running an outdated looking website, and can post a little blurb to accompany your amateur photographs. If you can gain a following, you too have the potential to be hired by reputable media companies, and deem yourself a “journalist.” Basic standards are thrown out the window, because it’s no longer about the quality of journalism.
On top of it all, I’ve gained true training outside of journalism school as an unpaid intern. At CTV Canada AM, I worked as a segment producer. My main responsibilities were determining what the set would look like, how the props would be set up, and ensuring guests were given any help they needed before their interviews. Oh, and the usual clerical duties.
These things I learned over time. The training was given to me at the start of my internship and I adapted quickly. Because that’s just how the industry works. In all honesty, the work I did could not be defined as “real” journalism. But even in the event I was partaking in journalistic work, each company has its own set of standards and ways of doing things.
They will teach new employees the basic how-to upon employment. A journalism degree isn’t a necessary requirement to be able to do it.
I wouldn’t say the past four years have been a complete waste, because they haven’t. I really did enjoy my time spent at Ryerson, and it would be unfair to say I haven’t learned a lot.
But the truth of the matter is that it was pointless for me to study a profession when you can get hired for a job in journalism without the journalism degree.
Now it’s up to me to start a damn blog and make a living out of the degree I’ve earned.

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