The role of journalism in education

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Journalism is often glamourized as a jet-set career, with professionals in the sector rubbing shoulders with celebrities and public figures. Sometimes it’s viewed as an exciting and potentially dangerous option – traveling out to warzones or going undercover to get an inside scoop.

However, the term “journalism” can cover an absolute plethora of job roles and specializations. From political content producers to sports columnists, and from podcasters to news analysts, there are hundreds of positions within the industry to suit those interested in studying the subject. There are also many roles outside the sector that require skills that are developed while taking a course in journalism.

In this article, we start by exploring the field of journalism and the qualifications and skills required to work successfully within this industry. However, it is clear that journalism offers a great deal more to individuals in education, reaching beyond the profession and into the development of a wider skillset.

For this reason, the second section of this article will focus on the bigger picture, exploring the impact of journalism on specialization and employability in general.

What is journalism?

Many experts name the Acta Diurna as the first newspaper ever published. It was created by the Ancient Romans in 59 BCE, and its name meant “Daily Doings.” The publication announced events such as gatherings, births, deaths, and more.

That makes journalism one of the most ancient career paths in the world. Today, the field can be divided into myriad specialist areas, including broadcasting, reporting, photojournalism, producing, editing, presenting, reviewing, analyzing, and more. Fields of journalism include sports and entertainment, digital, politics, health, science, business, and additional disciplines. This makes it a huge field with plenty of opportunities available, although competition for positions is always very high.

How can you become a journalist? 

There are all kinds of ways to embark on a career as a journalist. However, as we’ve mentioned, competition is rife, so a strong set of qualifications – along with extracurricular activities that reflect journalism as an interest – will set you in excellent stead.

What is taught in a journalism master’s degree?

If you’re thinking of going down a journalism career path, one way to make yourself as employable as possible is to pursue a relevant Master’s degree, such as the courses in Digital or Sports Journalism available at St. Bonaventure University. Programs of this kind provide all of the expertise you’ll need to enter the media sector, with many online study options available. From photography, film, audio recording, and design skills to reporting techniques – including live reporting – approaches to research, analysis, editing, coding, and even building a personal brand, there are all kinds of skills to be learned when taking journalism to a further educational level.

Even before graduating at this stage, however, there are many ways to develop your abilities as a future journalist.

How can I develop my journalism skills during my education? 

There are all kinds of ways in which students can make a start on their journalism skills before even leaving college. From volunteer and internship positions to clubs, societies, and hobbies, many of these options are exciting and enlightening while also putting young people in an excellent position for future study and employment. We explore a few of these ideas below.

Contribute to the school or college newspaper

Many schools and colleges have their own internal newspaper, whether in print, digital form, or both. Students can volunteer to be part of a team that produces reports on sporting events, performing arts, activities, clubs, and day-to-day happenings across the school or campus.

Some schools have papers that have been running for generations. Not only are they fabulous vehicles for skills development, but they also enable contributors to empower student voices and advocate for change and improvement within their institution. Available positions may include reporter, photographer, reviewer, or editor. Be sure you have enough free time to take this on before you make your application, as it can be a highly involved role. Schools, colleges, and universities may also have their own radio stations or podcasts.

Join a club

Your college or university may have a club that focuses on filmmaking, radio, or podcasting. All of these skills are highly valuable to individuals studying to become journalists. They are also a great way to socialize with like-minded people who may one day become colleagues or industry peers.

Get a subscription

The best journalists keep up to date with their sector. By subscribing to a digital or print publication dedicated to journalism, photography, podcasting, or anything similar, you can get into the habit of staying abreast of the latest industry updates.

Go to the local paper or television station

If you are able to get in touch with your local newspaper, radio station, or television station, you may be able to land a role as an intern or volunteer; you could even ask if you can shadow members of their team for a short period. Seeing the internal workings of a local media outlet is a great way to come to grips with journalism before gaining any formal qualifications, and any work you can get with organizations of this kind – even unpaid – will look great on your resume.

Of course, as we mentioned earlier, staying in education and studying for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism will help you to develop and refine specialist skills, and it may also enable you to make strong connections to support your career trajectory. This will make you far more employable.

Career skills developed through journalism studies 

Of course, showing an interest in journalism doesn’t mean you’re planning for a career in the industry. This field of study will help you to develop all kinds of specialist skills and interests that will significantly benefit you in the wider world of work. 

In this section, we’ll explore just a few of the benefits that studying journalism will provide, including:

  • Research
  • Fact-checking
  • Analysis
  • Networking
  • Editing
  • Interviewing
  • Scheduling
  • Budgeting
  • Idea generation
  • Pitching
  • Personnel management
  • Working collaboratively


There is a huge range of professional fields in which research is a key element. From recruiters looking into the backgrounds of their future employees to managers seeking out the best training courses, to the huge range of employees who are required to study and analyze their competition and the field in which they work, strong research capabilities are a must.


Before taking any action based on advice taken from the media or another external or secondary source, a professional must ensure that all “facts” are validated and trustworthy. Fact-checking is a key element of responsible journalism, and it is taught in all accredited courses.


A great many professionals in almost every field are required to generate and analyze reports. If you have trained as a journalist, you will have been taught exemplary analysis skills regarding both quantitative and qualitative data, and this will set you up for almost any future role you pursue.


Many people dread networking, but it’s the bread and butter of the well-trained journalist. The study of journalism teaches invaluable interpersonal skills and the development of contact lists, making networking second nature – a productive and even enjoyable experience. Almost every field of employment requires strong networking skills at some point, so this is an exceptionally valuable element of journalism training that applies almost universally.


Anyone who has ever read a long and rambling email from a colleague will be sorely aware of the need for good editing skills. Every piece of writing you create in a professional capacity – and particularly every public-facing section of copy you produce – must be clear and well-edited.

This goes right down to your resume and job applications. You may not be applying for a position that requires much writing, but if you are able to hand in beautifully honed and well-edited documents, you’ll already stand head and shoulders above half of the other applicants vying for the role.

The importance of the ability to edit is regularly underestimated, but anyone with a background in journalism will be able to apply this skill to almost any situation.


Interviewing is one of the most well-known journalistic skills, and it’s highly applicable to the wider world of employment. After all, it’s rare that anyone takes up a professional position without having been interviewed. 

If you are planning to enter a managerial position, it is highly likely that you will need to interview someone else someday, and this could be a nerve-wracking process. However, those with a background in journalism studies will have developed a strong interview technique, enabling them to devise questions and approaches as efficiently as possible and to be unflappable when “in the room.”

Of course, a good understanding of interview techniques can also work well for the interviewee, as knowing what to expect can really help to set their mind at ease and can enable them to prepare effectively and perform confidently.


Those who have managed shift workers or who have worked as personal assistants will understand the importance of scheduling as a skill.

When training to be a journalist, students must learn to effectively schedule meetings, appointments, and interviews to fit in with various events and the plans of other contributors. This sets them up perfectly to be able to take on this deceptively complex task with ease.


Many journalists need strong budgeting skills to manage travel and accommodation expenses efficiently, as well as any other costs inherent in their work. Whether you’re planning to run your own business, or you’ve been placed in charge of certain accounts, money management is a vital ability in a wide range of fields.

Idea generation

The skill of generating new, relevant, and engaging ideas on a regular basis is one that few people have, so those that do are highly sought after by employers. This ability is drilled into journalists from day one. Concepts for stories, suggestions for possible interviewees, and the potential of certain “angles” are all key to the job – particularly for reporters and editors – making journalism studies a superb way to develop this specialization.


There’s no point in having ideas if you aren’t able to “sell” them. Pitching is another delicate art that few people are able to master without a great deal of work, but it comes as second nature to many journalists. Of course, they go through a great deal of training to achieve their high standard.

Personnel management

A glimpse behind the scenes of a news studio will reveal a hive of activity, from camera operators to lighting designers to makeup artists to editors, journalists, anchors, and more – all working together to create the slickest possible result.

None of this would be possible without news directors and producers. Learning to carefully manage this complex network of personnel in a time-sensitive manner is part and parcel of training as a journalist and is an ideal experience for anyone seeking to take on a managerial position.

Working collaboratively

Almost every news outlet in any medium you can think of requires strong interpersonal skills. Journalists need to be “good to work with,” particularly as the job can get stressful and can have a huge number of moving parts. This brand of teamwork translates extremely well to just about any other job in existence.

Life skills provided by journalism studies

Of course, there are further skills that are developed while training to be a journalist that are applicable to life in general, not just school or work. Here, we explore these abilities and the day-to-day benefits they provide. They include:

  • Advocacy
  • Raising awareness
  • Media literacy
  • Learning


The act of “advocacy” involves taking action in support of a particular cause, group, or individual. It is a key part of democracy and renders an individual a great friend and an active, motivated citizen. Without advocates, we would not have the vital laws and protective processes that we have in place today. Advocacy is a key part of the legal system, the education system, the healthcare system and, much more besides.

Raising awareness

This skill is similar to advocacy – and, indeed, may be considered to form a part of it – but the act of raising awareness also involves “amplifying” an issue or cause to catch the attention of the general public, helping to avoid oversights, and directing collective focus to problems that must be solved. In raising awareness, we avoid apathy and drive positive action.

Media literacy

Access to all forms of news outlets has never been easier, which is why media literacy is absolutely fundamental in this modern age. With the threat of “fake news” everywhere and biased or poorly-researched information shareable globally at the click of a button or the tap of a screen, it is extremely important that we have the ability to analyze everything we read and make informed decisions regarding its credibility.

As social media continues to be harnessed by groups of all backgrounds to promote particular agendas and priorities, society needs to remain aware of the dangers involved in sharing material without due care.


A love of learning should not simply be confined to schools, colleges, and universities. As humans, we never stop learning, and the more we actively seek out new information or develop new skills, the more well-rounded and progressive we become.

Staying “in the loop”

Awareness of the current cultural, social, and political landscape is highly advisable for people of all ages and backgrounds in order to remain abreast of current events. This enables us as individuals to learn from past mistakes and to both empathize and debate with friends, colleagues, and other community members.

Staying “in the loop” by following both local and national news is an excellent way to take part in society and to keep up with all that is going on around you.

The five skills above are just a small selection of the abilities bestowed by an education in the field of journalism.

Your future and the future of journalism 

Whether or not you decide to pursue journalism as a career, exposure to this line of work and the training required to enter it are superb ways to develop key skills as a student, an employee, an employer, and a member of society.

In the digital age, journalism has a further reach than ever. While print media may be somewhat falling by the wayside, new platforms such as social media journalism and podcasts continue to take the world by storm. Journalism is one of the oldest careers on record, and its continued development will see the industry thrive well into the future, taking on new forms and approaches all the time.

Whether you’re considering putting your name forward to be part of a college newspaper team or you’re on the cusp of graduating with a Master’s Degree in digital or sports journalism, we hope this article has enlightened you on just some of the educational and lifestyle-related benefits of training as a journalist.

Natasha M. McKnight

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