Journalism Major

If you love to know what is going on and are willing to get into the middle of interesting things, you might be great as journalist. A journalist is someone who works in television, magazines, newspapers, web publishing, social media—or as an entrepreneur who starts his or own company.

Students in the journalism major take classes in all aspects of journalism, including feature writing, social media, TV news producing and web publishing. Courses help students become writers, photographers, videographers, social media experts and web publishers.

Students can also pursue many activities outside the classroom that will help them be successful. For instance, the University of Memphis has chapters in two of the nation's premier journalism organizations—Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists. Both organizations provide students with opportunities to engage with other students and professionals in print, broadcast and online media. Our students can also attend regional and national events with both organizations.

The best way for students to hone their skills as a journalist is to work at The Daily Helmsman, the award-winning campus newspaper; WUMR, the campus' radio station; or Tiger News, the weekly television newscast.

Journalists also have opportunities to pursue internships at websites, publications and broadcast television and radio stations in the Mid-South and around the nation. The combination of coursework, professional organizations, on-campus media and outside internships make for a successful journalist.

Here are nine tips for succeeding as a journalism major:

  1. Get good grades 

    Take your courses seriously. While a 3.0 GPA is good enough to make you eligible for scholarships, aim high. Do your best to stand out and be exceptional. Average or mediocre people are boring and soon forgotten. Professors are more likely to remember 'A' students, which is why they get recommended for jobs and internships.

  2. Get media experience

    Work for The Daily Helmsman, WUMR or Tiger News. All the experience you can get writing, shooting and creating online is valuable. Gather all your work on an online portfolio site so all can see your work. Good grades without experience and work samples mean nothing.

  3. Get active in organizations

    Professional organizations such as the NABJ and SPJ look great on a resume, and becoming an officer looks even better. Membership also lets you network with pros, who can help you in your career.

  4. Win awards

    There are plenty of opportunities to win awards for your work, and many awards are given to almost everyone who enters. They all look good on your resume.

  5. Do an internship

    Get out of the classroom and into the real world. Contact places you would like to work and offer your services. Many internships will not pay, but doing work for free is the key to getting paid for it in the future.

  6. Go places

    Get out of Memphis. See the world by doing a study abroad or go somewhere else in the USA on breaks. Travel is a great experience that makes you more knowledgeable about the world around you.

  7. Be wise about finances

    Be careful about taking out school loans. A loan debt is a burden that will hamper your career. Apply for scholarships and take advantage of discounts in summer tuition.

  8. Know what's going on

    You are going into the news business so you should know about what's happening in the news. Know about the news in your town, your country and your world. Watch the TV news. Read the local paper.

  9. Be adaptable

    The media environment changes every day. Being an expert in one area is not enough; you need to develop all of your media skills, from writing, and photography to criticism thinking, research and design. Your career will be multifaceted. You must be, too.