What I Learned from My 3 Year Journalism Course

When Sam began studying Journalism at Worcester in September 2018, they thought they had an idea of what to expect. These expectations were quickly blown out of the water. Here’s what they’ve got to say:

Journalism is an exciting, creative, and constantly evolving medium. There’s a lot to learn and you will be amazed by what you can do by the time you reach the end of your time at Worcester. These are some of the things that I learned when studying this incredibly fast-paced world of work-

1.Journalism is VERY collaborative.

I think that in our society we have a view of journalists as these ‘lone-wolf’ style characters. We think of people like Hunter S. Thompson, Roger Ebert, and Louis Theroux. These imposing one-man armies, who seem to have everything figured out and know exactly what to say at just the right time. However, we also forget that these people had a whole team of co-writers, editors, directors, camera, and sound crew and so on that make their productions so memorable.

Going into the course I had a sense that I was going to be left on my own to forge a perilous path through academia. This could not be further from the truth. From day 1, me and my course-mates were encouraged to share ideas and resources. We help each other write, we help to develop each other’s news stories and we take turns to operate the camera when another student is speaking.

There was never a point where I felt like I was being left behind or forgotten. Everyone is incredibly friendly and cordial. Since you all share a common interest in the news and a common goal for doing well on your collaborative projects, you will soon find that you get along with everybody.

 2. You will develop a wide variety of different skills.

When I arrived at Worcester, I thought that being good at writing was the one and only skill I needed to excel at journalism. Imagine my shock when the lecturers start talking about the difference between High Court and Crown Court or how to operate a £2000 TV camera and whatever ‘riding the faders’ is. This will all feel a bit overwhelming at first. For me, it manifested as imposter syndrome, where for the first couple of months I felt like I’d snuck onto campus under an assumed identity. This is all perfectly normal. Stick with it and power through your doubts: it will get better.

Nobody expects you to know every aspect of an entire industry from the moment you step through the doors. Especially not when you’re 18, or in my case, the ripe old age of 23. My lecturers were very accommodating for all the students and were fully aware that we had varying levels of technical ability. Every module was well paced, and I felt totally comfortable asking for help, whether it was from lecturers or my fellow students. This has moulded us from wide eyed young hopefuls into proper modern journalists with more knowledge than I ever thought I’d have.

If you sat me in front of a computer three years ago, I would’ve struggled to open Adobe InDesign, much less use it. Now I can edit video and audio, film live TV broadcasts and produce a whole magazine. I started my career wanting to just be a writer and now I’m thinking about being a radio presenter. The possibilities are endless.

3.Your confidence will go through the roof.

Public speaking – It’s a phrase that strikes fear into the hearts and minds of many. For me it conjures up memories of awkwardly standing at the front of class in high school, trying desperately to remember a chapter from To Kill a Mockingbird, while your classmates look on with a mixture of amusement and pity. But, this is a far cry from the type of public speaking you’ll be doing on the course. Journalism is all about talking. Whether it’s a piece to camera, interviewing the public or just liaising with your colleagues, you’re going to be doing a lot of face-to-face interaction. It may sound daunting, but it wound up being my favourite part of the whole course.

As you speak to the public more and more, you will notice that all those butterflies in your stomach finally settle down. Suddenly you’re not focusing on how awkward you look or sound because you know that you look and sound great. You can relax and focus more on the person speaking. You pick up on little details like the way they rolled their eyes when they mentioned a certain politician. Or the way they hushed their tone when they spoke about something embarrassing. This is all a sign that you’re becoming a better journalist.

If you’re really good at interviewing people, you might even throw in a question you thought of right in the moment, particularly if your subject says something particularly interesting or scandalous. The feelings of accomplishment and self-assurance you will feel in this situation are on par with the last day of school or passing your driving test. It gets pretty addicting.

4. A lot of you new skills are transferable

Your new found confidence and listening skills will do wonders for your personal life. I feel like I listen to my own friends much better now. My conversations are richer and more memorable. Sending an email or answering a phone call no longer comes with those adolescent pangs of anxiety. When I went for a job interview in April of 2019, I had been doing journalism for less than a year and already the course had taught me to remain calm, act natural and present the best version of myself. I got the job and you can too.

University is a time for exploration and finding out who you are – Embrace it. Take every opportunity that comes your way and be open to discovery. You will find a path that works for you. There’s a lot to learn, people to meet and a whole bunch of new experiences.

Stay cool