What the hell? You don’t have to study journalism to be a good journalist.

This Sunday before our story meeting I received via email a list of article ideas.  As I was reading through the topics I found myself thinking about what indignant folks journalists are, mostly based on the number of times the phrase “what the hell?” was used when referring to policies, practices, and institutions.

One of the defining characteristics of journalists is their tendency to question what others may take for granted.  I’d say that specific attribute is even more important than one’s study of AP style and proper journalistic writing practices.  What good is the ability to list facts in as unbiased a manner as possible if you don’t have the deep-seated curiosity that will lead you to new information in the first place?

Most of the journalists I have worked with at the Sun Star study liberal arts, and a good deal of them are majoring in or had majored in journalism.  And I am disheartened to hear potential recruits – mostly in other fields, often in more technical ones like math, science, engineering – shy away from writing for the paper because they “aren’t journalists,” or because they “don’t know how to write articles.”

Writing an article and applying that journalistic skill set is secondary to asking the hard questions, which as college students we should all be doing anyway.  I would encourage anyone who is curious or who enjoys learning, regardless of their field of study or experience writing news, to come to a Sun Star meeting and listen to us talk about story pitches, and possibly take on a story.

Because writing and formatting and editing comes second.  Asking “what the hell?” comes first – maybe it’s time to ask “what the hell is going on at the Sun Star?”

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1 Response

  1. Zeb Zero says:

    A better question would be, “What the hell kind of editorial am I reading?”

    The Letters from the Editor column is not a journalist recruiting column… especially for non-trained ones.

    While its a good thing to hear tips and story ideas from the pubic, its always best to let the professional do the job.

    So, perhaps its time to ask, “Is there a professional writing the Letters to the Editor column?”

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