Why my Major Matters – Sarah Tomkinson


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I mulled over this assignment. I thought it would be easy, but as I started to sit down and analyze the situation I found this to be more complex than expected. 

Why will my journalism degree matter? 

I know a lot of my friends think my major is easy, but maybe it’s because journalists tend to set themselves apart. Western Illinois University Professor Emeritus Bill Knight once told me that he felt us journalists are mutants and have an awful disease in which we crave being indulged in this printed media realm. 

I can’t help but agree. The average journalism major I know writes and researches day in and day out. We get in people’s faces to get the facts and go out of our way to find a story. 

I used what I am learning through my journalism program to create this. I first mulled over what I knew or thought about journalism. It turned into a 2,000 word essay that just wouldn’t fit in this space. I contacted fellow journalists I knew such as Knight and Western alum Jeffrey Bartl, editor-in-chief of the Chicago Blackhawks blog, Cheer the Anthem. I then compiled everything they told me to figure out what to write about. 

Bartl expressed that he too was stumped, claiming that journalism was so versatile and meant different things to different people. He said there is no way to sum up all its power in 500 words. To him, it was collecting clips of information for him to rely on for later information. 

Knight replied by saying he was about to give me more information than I’ll ever need on why my major is important. 

One line, out of all the information I received stuck out though. Knight quoted journalism as being the “first rough draft of history.” Journalism is breaking news, and sending it to the mass audience in a way that everyone can understand. It’s following the complex AP stylebook to the tee, while making sure to meet the deadline so that you, the reader, can receive this information and understand what’s going on in today’s world. 

After reading all of this, I finally came to what my journalism degree has taught me. Despite the low pay, terrible hours and lack of a social life I will step foot into next May, I will be taking on a selfless role in society that means more to me than almost any other job. My journalism degree is teaching me to look for news so others don’t have to. It’s teaching me to ask the questions no one else wants to. I am hunting for information that the mass audience wouldn’t find out about in any other situation. 

Now that this is all said and done, I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the full answer. There’s way more that goes into the major, but for the general gist of things — this is why my major is important. 

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