You’re 17 years old. For some reason you’ve decided you want to go to college to learn how to be a journalist. My hat’s off to you — first, for wanting to go to college, and second, for wanting to answer what I still consider to be a calling to public service.
Journalists find out things, then tell people what they found out. Often, it’s stuff people want to hear. But a good journalist must tell people what they need to hear — even if they don’t want to hear it. So I’m glad you want to become one of us.
Perhaps you’ve had training already. Your high school has a student-run paper, a radio station, even a broadcast television studio. You know Twitter and Facebook and perhaps write your own blog.
Your parents might be opposed to your choice. They’ve heard journalism is dying, newspapers are closing, and so on. They’ve heard journalists don’t get paid much. But you’ve done your homework. You believe opportunity will rise from the ashes of an outdated business model corporations imposed on journalism as a profession and a calling. And you’d like to be one of the pioneers who have a hand in its rebirth.
So (whether you like it or not) I have a few suggestions to offer. The first is simple:
If you’re not nosey, learn to be. Right now. Journalists must be curious about the world around them. So much of their work begins with an understanding of their own lived experience and observations.