If you spot a student scribbling furiously in a notebook, on the phone or carrying camera equipment, while simultaneously suffering through caffeine withdrawals — you’ve probably just seen a journalism major in its natural habitat. Here are the top seven woes of all journalism majors.
1. Caffeine isn’t a luxury, it’s necessary for survival
Let’s be honest, mass communications students keep Caribou Coffee in the K-State Student Union in business. And Cat’s Den. And Sonic. Between radio segments, article writing, convergence, photography and videography projects, caffeine is the lifeblood of journalism. There may soda and iced coffee in every other vending machine, but everyone knows the Union’s Bottomless Coffee Mug deal is the most cost-effective option considering the gallons you drink every week.
2. You speak AP Style fluently as a second language
If you don’t know Associated Press style by heart as a senior, you might as well quit school. I kid. But really, AP Style is a must-know, just as owning the newest stylebook version, every year, is all but mandated by mass communications professors. No sane person can call themselves a journalist without knowing the style like the back of their hand.
3. At any given time, you have at least one reporter’s notebook or a camera on your person
This is a straight-up given. Also add to this list: flash drives, external hard drives and voice recording apps. Journalism students are taught to always be on alert for potential news or stories and as such, they must be prepared. A reporter’s notebook fits snugly into a backpack or purse; smartphone cameras are a must-have in a pinch; and the multitude of recording apps help avoid misquoting conversations – as long as you remember to press record …
4. Any normal conversation is immediately turned into a story idea
In keeping with the previous point, don’t be surprised if journalism majors decide to use a normal conversation between friends as a starting point for their next article or multimedia project. Listening to others talk about anything extensively becomes a gold mine for story and interview ideas. Just don’t get mad when they ask if they can quote you.
5. Reading any publication or watching a video clip is no longer pure entertainment
No longer can we just look at a magazine or video package at surface level. We’re looking at design, layout and of course, the content. Our brains begin the analysis. Is this really the best quote they could’ve used? This segment would’ve been so much more captivating if it had been shot at ground level, right? Sigh. Gone are the days of being able to read an article without having an internal debate about serif versus san-serif font.
6. Video editing is the bane of your existence
Even for digital media majors, shooting and editing video can be a soul-sucking experience. Whether it’s poor audio conditions, bad lighting or awkward interview subjects, editing can become a never-ending nightmare full of cutting, splicing and the hellish period of rendering. When all is said and done, the work is something you are especially proud of, but you know you’ll never get those hours and hours of your life back.
7. If you hear one more person ask if you’re “worried print is dying,” you’ll smack them with with a stylebook.
As all print journalism majors hear anytime they state their desired career path – print is dead. Except it isn’t. Are hard-copy, newspaper subscriptions declining? Sure. But there is still plenty of demand for reading the written word, regardless of the medium. We’ll shake our heads or grin and bare it, because when it comes down to it, we love what we do, no matter what.
Lindsey Staab is a senior in mass communications.