Most people wear their major as a badge of pride. Engineering and pre-med students like to brag about how heavy their workload is and how many hours they spend in lab each week, even if they frame it as a complaint. My major can feel like a mark of shame. I’m in COM, I say, and almost immediately people dismiss it as something trivial, something worth less because of an easier schedule. COM students are the butt of the joke at BU, and we’re tired of it.
Sure, we’re not in class for as long as the STEM majors. That doesn’t mean we don’t work just as hard. COM is, as the name implies, a school for those who love to communicate. We listen to people; we observe and record; we inform and teach. In a world that is becoming increasingly more connected, journalists can reach a much broader audience than the people who get the morning paper.
It seems that every day a new article comes out with the headline “Journalism is Dead!” (Ironic, since a journalist wrote it.) The career advice we get is focused around us keeping a job; we are told to stay on our feet, to always look for new openings in case the paper you’re working for folds unexpectedly. Yet what some of the older journalists don’t realize is that we grew up with the Internet at our fingertips, and now we are ready to take it by storm.
Print journalism is undeniably declining, but the same forces that are burying it present a whole new opportunity for writers in the digital age. Online journalism is growing exponentially, with stories that can reach the whole world with the click of a button. Journalism isn’t dead, but it is changing, possibly for the better. Our employment opportunities look different than they did twenty years ago because they are adapting to fit a new age.
We decided to study journalism because we wanted to tell real stories, stories that mattered, and we wanted other people to listen to them. Our goal is to inform, the same way researchers seek to inform others about their findings. Don’t look down your nose condescendingly; we are every bit as smart as you.
I once had a teacher ask me, “How does it feel to be studying a dying profession?” What kind of an impact does that message have on a young student? What are we telling our passionate, hardworking writers who want to make a difference? How do you tell someone that what they’re doing doesn’t matter?
To COM students and to anyone with a passion for telling stories: you’re not alone. We are alive.