Why my Major Matters – Alyse Thompson

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It’s no secret — prognostications for the field of journalism have been bleak. 

In the last few years, we’ve heard that newspapers are dying, radio is fading and television is departing from the earnest reporting of Walter Cronkite to the sensational ravings of Glenn Beck— all due, in part, to the wild success of the Internet. 

Based on these seemingly dire changes, many would ask, why does journalism matter? 

You wouldn’t have picked up the paper if it didn’t. 

Journalists fulfill many important roles in the communities they serve, and as a result, we need students — like me and approximately 90 others at Western — to learn the tricks of the trade and continue to carry out the important jobs they’ve selected. 

First and foremost, journalists inform the public. Whether they are reporting the details of a local accident, or presenting the beliefs and ideas of presidential candidates, journalists distribute the information people need to know to successfully live and engage in their communities. 

For example, what if you wanted to learn how to participate in the Big Pink Volleyball or any other campus-wide event? Chances are, if you picked up the Western Courier, we’d have that information available for you. 

And, while you’re flipping through those pages, you’d learn how Western’s football team did over the weekend, what Western students are up to and which issues are affecting the University and Macomb as a whole. 

In that way, the Western Courier, and any other media, act as intermediaries between the community and the agencies and businesses that assist it. 

Additionally, the media, via any platform, allows the public to voice their opinions regarding community events and issues. Whether it’s a letter to the editor, a post on a news station’s website or a simple Facebook comment, the media gives its audience a chance to speak about what directly affects them. 

Of course, we need journalists to start and facilitate that conversation. 

And, despite the cliché title, journalists are watchdogs. They keep an eye on the government, businesses and other agencies and report on any wrongdoings in attempt to stop them. Without a journalist, for example, Jerry Sandusky might still be on the athletic staff at Penn State. 

While journalists are vital to their communities, journalism itself also has a profound impact on the people who promote and study it. 

Journalism teaches students how to write. Other reporters and I would not be able to create the logical, detailed and entertaining stories audiences need without the skills we’ve been taught in school and in college media. 

And, in an age when good, informative writing is going the way of the 8-track thanks to texting and other technological advances, working to preserve these skills is necessary. Luckily, journalism can help combat that change. 

Journalism also teaches reporters how to analyze lots of information and organize it in a way that makes sense — an ability that every successful adult needs, regardless of major. 

For example, I recently wrote a story covering student loans and how it impacts students at Western. Without the skills I’ve learned, I wouldn’t have been able to understand and synthesize the data — and report it back to all of you. 

Lastly, journalism teaches its students how to successfully interact in the world around them. Whether it is staying up to date on the issues in the Middle East, or being able to effectively communicate with all kinds of people, this is of the utmost importance, especially in this increasingly global society. 

So, before you disregard journalism as a dying field with waning significance, consider what it does — and could do — for you. Without a doubt, my major matters. 

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