Thrown In The Fire

While I was reading Meredith Artley’s article about choosing journalists from the field, one part of it really stood out to me.

Artley, who is the managing editor of CNN’s digital operations, said she did not think a journalism degree was required to become a journalist. Instead of having a general knowledge of the field, she believes candidates would be better suited picking a specific field (like science), and having a deep knowledge of it.

I find this to be an interesting take from a woman who graduated from Mizzou, one of the top J-schools in the world, with a journalism degree. While she said she wouldn’t change her ways, she also said she definitely sounded like she considers those without a degree as much those with one. Is this an acceptable method of hiring?

I’m completely fine with it to some degree. Journalism is a field that, in my view, is all about hands on experience. There is a great deal to learn academically, like the morals and ethics of the field, but so far, I think I have learned the most by actually going out and covering things.

Now, this type of hands on opportunity has been provided by the excellent education provided by the University of Missouri. But I do believe you can go out on your own, volunteer for different organizations, and work your way into the field. 

Look at a guy like Ryan Seacrest. Seacrest, who could be the biggest personality in entertainment media, did not graduate with a college degree. After gaining years of experience at radio stations in Georgia, through internships and hard work, Seacrest left the University of Georgia when he was 19. He had a gift that many noticed when he was younger, knew it, and worked to show it to everyone.

Journalism is that type of field where if you got it, you’re going to be fine. Being able to tell a story in a manner that people want to watch you is a talent many don’t possess. Some people can study all they want to and get the highest GPA possible, but that does not mean it will translate to becoming a successful journalist. Give me the candidate with more in-field experience any day of the week, even if that means they don’t have a journalism degree. 

Artley most certainly learned this was the way to go while getting her journalism degree. Through her experience at Mizzou, I think she took away the lesson of being thrown into the fire. Find a way to survive, thrive in it, and move on. 

The ones who do will always make it. 

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