#WhyIWrite: My Story as a Journalism Major

Ever since I became an aspiring journalist, I was always bombarded with the question: “Why waste your time getting a degree that makes no money?” The truth is that journalists do not have a high salary, the impactful stories we convey to the world are what matters in the long-run.

My love for writing began during my freshman year of high school when my dream of being a meteorologist faded because of the amount of calculus I would have to take. Throughout my grammar school years, my teachers always told my parents I was a strong writer, but my little impatient child brain was entirely against the idea of actually taking the time to write. My parents signed me up to be a staff writer for a weekly section of our local town paper produced by teens called The Edge.

Going into this amazing opportunity, I was scared out of my mind because I had no idea how to write in a professional, newsworthy tone. My first article ever produced was about a presentation by Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut who walked on the moon, at our local science museum. To be honest, reporting this event and attempting to quickly write down almost everything he said was rough but also invigorating. It was like a switch turned on in my heart, and something was telling me this is what I am meant to do; tell the incredible stories of ordinary people. Unfortunately, The Edge was discontinued from the newspaper in 2015 and essentially, I was “out of a job” (even though I wasn’t actually employed). I began to frantically find anything to write for so that my writing skills wouldn’t fade away.

Last year, my writing career began to flourish again. For a short period, I wrote for an online international publication called Affinity Magazine. The only story I wrote was one that I will treasure forever; covering a hometown show for Twenty One Pilots on their Tour De Columbus shows in June of 2017. When I found out that they were extending their tour, I was determined to get a photography pass. I frantically searched for any contact I could find an email for, and surprisingly I found one that approved my request, but with only a week’s notice.

One day before the concert, my dad and I hopped in my little Chevrolet Cruze and traveled six hours to Columbus, Ohio. When I arrived at the venue and saw that the other photographers were pros at this, I was filled with nervousness. Nonetheless, my little Nikon D3200 and I snagged a spot front and center and right below the stage. To this day, I cannot believe I was five feet from Tyler Joseph, taking photographs for a band that I loved. I realized that my real passions were music, concert writing and photography. I even got a tattoo of the Twenty One Pilots logo on my arm to commemorate the amazing experience.

Although writing may seem the ultimate career for some people, today’s journalists are continually degraded by merely telling the truth through writing. Our job is not to sugar-coat a story; We thrive on discovering the cold, hard truth for society to be either entertained or informed by. Especially with the recent elections, our voices as young journalists are becoming more dimmed by bias and judgment among our generation. It is essential that we continue practicing our passion, whether it is looked down upon or silenced, and that goes for any career. I was once told by a writer at the Tampa Bay Times that you don’t become a journalist for the money, you do it for the experience and the intense love you have for the job.

The future of journalism is far from dead. Being a student in college surrounded by countless powerful journalism majors, I have a hard time believing that the job outlook is shrinking. Maybe print journalism is declining, but if we don’t have writers, how will we know about the stories of the silenced voices? How will we know of the heroic tales of someone in your community in such depth that 30-minute newscasts cannot deliver? I write because of this and many other reasons.

If you are ever hesitant about a career, especially journalism, don’t ever give up on it. During my freshman year of college, I became more afraid for my future than I ever have been all because I knew that I wouldn’t make any money in journalism. I even had an Uber driver tell me on the way back from the Gainesville airport that I was wasting my time paying $40,000 a year for a degree that will get me nowhere. Surprisingly, my biggest supporters are my parents, and I owe all of the pride I have in my career to them. They continually remind me that they want me to do what I want and they  support my journalism path, 100 percent. I could never thank them enough for that.

Journalism is a craft that takes years to perfect, but in the end, the outcomes are wholesome. Whether you enjoy the rush of a newsroom during the five o’clock rush hour, or the more laid-back atmosphere of a monthly magazine office, the reason why you write is unique to you.

If you are a journalism major or enjoy writing in general, I encourage you to share your story with me and all of the world using the hashtag #WhyIWrite. Whether I get zero responses or over a hundred, I hope that my story inspires you to defeat the odds of society and get that journalism degree.