Though the University of Michigan does not have a journalism major, I have been able to seek out the specific program and courses available to cater to my interests. Right now, I am planning to declare a major in Communications and a minor in Spanish in the fall. Because I have also focused my writing at the Daily on science and research, I have also decided to minor in Environmental Science (this was also a great recommendation from my advisor!). I decided on these three focus points for a number of reasons: Communications is the closest thing to journalism at U-M and, even if I am not directly in the field for the entirety of my career, I will have a good basis for PR work in the future. Additionally, because journalists often travel, I want to make sure I am prepared for a variety of locations and experiences as a journalist, calling for my minor in Spanish. Lastly, I want to ensure I am prepared for diverse types of writing – not only news, but feature, politics and science. While I have a good amount of exposure in writing and editing each of these types of stories, to have a minor in Environmental Science gives me a specific point I will specialize in. This way, I believe I will be able to handle a number of stories but be particularly competitive within science writing. Especially in today’s political climate and with today’s government relations to the media, I believe these three focus points are really strong, marketable and crucial in having a career in journalism. I can be multidisciplinary, but I have focused knowledge in one area. I (literally) can see both sides of the story through a journalists’ lens and through the lens of a Communications perspective. I will be able to talk to people of different communities with my knowledge in Spanish, and I’ll also be able to understand more scientific and research-based terms than journalists without that knowledge or experience.
On top of my studies, I have my experience at the Daily and now Channel 4 to supplement my journalistic abilities. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, seeing my studies shine through in the workplace and seeing my work in the workplace appear in my studies has been refreshing and encouraging. I have been able to apply a lot of what I learned in Comm 261: Views on the News, to the Daily and Channel 4. There is an interesting dynamic between the Fourth and Fifth Estates – primarily the ongoing negotiations between journalists and representatives of the public, or PR – that is never going to go away in my career. We need this dynamic because we need the public for our stories, and the public needs us for our knowledge and information – there is a constant dialogue between these two organizations, and the way this dialogue is conducted determines what news people get and how they get it. Additionally, the way stories are framed, and whether or not the media is agenda setting, are two other concepts I see a lot while in the field. Journalists may get an hour or two of interviews, but only have 600 words or 2 minutes on a show to relay the information. How do they do it? How do they decide what gets cut, and what is kept? This is also a constant negotiation that I’ve learned about in both academic and working environments.
This internship has confirmed my interest in this field as much as the Daily has. I love being in a hectic, fast-moving and high-pressure environment. I love knowing things and relaying them to the public through writing and photography. I love the evolution of journalism through innovation and differing interactions with the public. I am happy to be in this type of environment through the Daily and Channel 4. Journalists and reporters are kind, understanding, hard-working and dedicated. They are able to multi-task and evolve. They are able to survey a situation with little prior knowledge and know how to get the information they need. They do a public service, but they are also doing a job. Channel 4 has shown me I am in the right field and I want to continue to pursue this.
That being said, I have also been able to see that I do not necessarily want to be involved in broadcast production. I love the assignment desk and going along with reporters, but I know I wouldn’t want to be working on the more technical parts of the show. Those who produce are extremely talented, and know more about technology and broadcast than I ever will! However, I like being at the scene of a story, taking tips, talking to sources and doing interviews. I know I wouldn’t like doing the physical piecing together of the show as much. This isn’t to say this part isn’t important; after all, this is the part our audience sees! But, being at Channel 4 has helped me narrow down even more so what I want to do. I know for sure now I want to stick to print and online writing, especially with health and science news. I’ve been able to talk to reporters, producers, anchors and editors at Channel 4 – all of whom have been amazing and very helpful. They have allowed me to seek out what areas of the station I want to. Seeing all of these aspects have confirmed I love a news room, interviews and talking to sources, and writing. I was able to speak with the health news producer, and she gave me a lot of great advice – including contact info to some U-M professors in the field!
Because of this experience, I am looking to seek out as many classes within the Comm major that I can that specifically focus on media and audience relations, as well as news writing. In the future, I’ll also be taking a double-counted class in Comm and the Enviro minor that focuses on science writing. I am excited to continue to tailor my education to my interests and get the most out of this internship and at the University to prepare for a great career!