I had very little knowledge of journalism prior to my admittance to the University of Texas at Austin. I knew I loved to write and share stories with the world, and I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until this year that I realized that journalism as a profession was everything I had ever tried to avoid.
While the statement seems a bit rash, journalism has pushed me to levels of extreme discomfort that I attempted to avoid throughout my life. My intense dislike for talking to strangers and making phone calls, as well as generalized anxiety towards conflict, makes being a journalism student exponentially more complicated than it may be for others. While my passion for writing has never once wavered, my goal of becoming a journalist has.
It’s no secret that the media is intensely disliked. For this reason, people often have loads of negative comments towards students and professional journalists. I have sat down at many family dinners, and encountered strangers who have blatantly told me that journalism is a terrible field or that “nobody likes the media.” If you could hit me with your worst insult towards being a journalist, I have almost certainly already heard it.
Not only have I faced the scrunched faces of disappointment when I reveal my dream career, but I have also learned that almost always, someone will be upset or dissatisfied with whatever work you are producing. Individuals have reached out to me regarding their negative feelings towards pieces I have published, which almost always triggers panic and fear. For those who have provided scrutiny towards my work, I often remind them that the first amendment protects freedom of speech, and nothing I say has to be taken down. A journalists obligation is to the truth, and no academic work I have ever produced has been anything but that. However, out of fear and shame, I have often removed my pieces from the public eye to avoid tarnishing my reputation (although, as a student, a reputation of any kind currently ceases to exist).
Despite my tendency to jump to conclusions about what I desire my future career to be, I am also aware that not every job in the field of journalism involves conducting several interviews per week with strangers. Newsrooms are filled with copywriting and editing positions that involve little to no fieldwork, which is characteristic of traditional journalism. In addition to careers in corporate communications and law, these positions have become increasingly desirable to me.
The positive impact that journalism has had on my life is significant, as much as I wish it was not. I have gained confidence in my social abilities, eloquence in my writing, and coherence in my power to synthesize contemporary issues. As much as I wish I could say I am confident in changing my decision about my dream career, I am not.
I have met and spoken with many people that are beyond knowledgeable yet lack the voice that a journalist provides to represent their community. Being able to act as an advocate in my writing for people within my community is a part of journalism that I would hate to relinquish if I did not pursue the career. Nevertheless, my journey in this profession is not yet complete, nor is my decision as to whether or not I would like to stay where I am.