Opinion: A snap to snag, a drag to succeed: Welcome to journalism degrees


It’s a very cute movie, yes, and I certainly consider it one of my favorites. A young, sheltered kid acts on one moment of boldness and somehow manages to get invited on the road with an up-and-coming rock band, thus losing his virginity, dabbling in fun drugs and best of all, scoring a cover story with Rolling Stone magazine.

I feel most of my fellow journalism majors can agree that “Almost Famous” had a little, heart-warming effect on them. However, some of them —I think — hold the film as a hopeful blueprint in their hearts … you know, leafing through the Associated Press Stylebook but sticking to a wishing-upon-a-star mentality, patiently awaiting a kick ass writing job to drop into their naive laps. Remember, William Miller worked for his school paper.

According to mass communication folklore, a huge reason the course Advanced Writing for the Media transcended into pre-req territory was to “weed out the weaklings.” Judging by the utter dearth of responses from my occasional e-mails searching for contributing writers for the Spinnaker’s features section, it looks like far too many limp-wristed kids slipped through the cracks.

I’ll admit I made it ’til very early junior year at UNF until I hopped back into the J-game. I had been getting, and ignoring, e-mail castings from the Spinnaker (the same e-mails I’ve had ignored all semester) and didn’t think much of it until my friend told me, “All of this not writing is sure going to help you get a gig writing once graduation rolls around.”

It was true. I’d been previously involved in some type of print media consistently since fourth grade. Somehow between all my rounds at house parties, days sprawled face-down on Jax Beach and my rounds finagled at Springfield pubs, I had gone on an unplanned and unnoticed sabbatical from a passion I felt flowed through my veins. I’d continued ferociously penning in my private journals, but that wasn’t good enough.

I immediately signed up for several stories with both the Spinnaker and Folio Weekly, diligently knocking out piece after piece. And you know what? It felt really good to carefully carve each article with my byline and cement it solid to the pages of my rapidly growing portfolio.

However, all the hours I booked working on stories did take a minor toll on the life of relative leisure I had grown accustomed to. I had less time to slack off with school and had to learn how to budget my time. But, like my friend said, why wouldn’t I start working toward the career I aimed for immediately? Didn’t I decide to dedicate my life to the written word for a reason?

This is why I have zero patience for fellow J majors telling me they are too busy to write for the Spinnaker or any other publications. We all have class. We all have jobs. We all have friends, hobbies, family, romantic interests, life check-lists and a need to sleep. It. Is. Worth. It.

And I’ve heard it lots before from various respected, professional journalists.

“It’s an easy major, but a tough profession.”

Thanks to the downward spiral of print journalism, it’s gotten tougher. Competition is damn fierce, and only a BS won’t get you a foot in the door anywhere.

So if you truly aim to have a career in journalism, you need to be writing, reporting, snooping, developing, thinking, scoping, talking, listening, seeing CONSTANTLY. And if you truly love the craft, then it won’t be something you regretfully scooch time aside for, it should be the reason you get out of bed in the morning.

Besides, the stories only grow in intensity, and with that, so does the demand for your time and energy if you want to produce a good piece. However, I will mention journalism hasn’t proven to me, at least, to be a field worked solely by grumpy, caffeine-hyped know-it-alls … and that there is a reason why reporters have been stereotyped as alcoholics (in a good way).

Journalism majors, consider this your wake-up call.

No, it’s not easy. You don’t get to goof around as much or have as booming of a social life anymore. And if that’s something you’re unwilling to cope with, change your damn major.