What to expect as a journalism major

Scott Maier
Scott Maier, Journalism Area Head

For hundreds of years, journalism has been a major source of information for those interested in keeping up with current events, politics and scientific advancements. It’s also played a key role in our democracy as the means to give the voting populace the information they need to make decisions about laws, funding and leadership.

But a lot has changed in the field over the past 20 years, as well. While the news media remains a vitally important part of our society, the industry — like many industries — has been disrupted by the internet and other advances in technology. Compared to just a few decades ago, there are so many more platforms for journalists to tell a story and for their audiences to consume the news.

As a result, the world is better informed and audiences can be reached almost instantaneously. At the same time, the “democratization” of publishing has made it much harder to tell the difference between fake news and real reporting.

And inevitably, as journalism changes, so must journalists. The UO School of Journalism and Communication prepares their students by offering a full accredited curriculum focused on a foundation of ethics, practical skills, and innovative approaches to the field, such as solutions journalism, data journalism and engagement journalism.

Want to know what a journalism major does? The Journalism Department’s new area head, Scott Maier, gave us some insight into the program and what it means to be a “Super-J” student at the SOJC.

What is journalism, according to the SOJC?

Journalism represents more than a story published in a newspaper or magazine or transmitted on television or webpage. Journalism is a process in which information is gathered, evaluated and told in a way that engages and makes a difference in people’s lives.

How does our journalism program differ from other schools?

Students enrolled in the UO journalism program gain an exceptionally rich array of skills: learning how to find and assess information, to write clearly and with authority, to engage readers through storytelling and to use cutting-edge multimedia skills. The journalism program is also exceptionally flexible — students determine the pathway of their studies. At the core of all that the sequence offers is journalism that makes a difference in people’s lives.

How does our journalism program prepare students for both traditional and digital journalism?

All journalism students receive training in both traditional and digital journalism, but the boundaries increasingly overlap. Storytelling crosses platforms while even the most technological endeavor requires bedrock journalism skills and values.

What should every journalism student know before graduating from the SOJC?

While it is important to graduate with an array of technological skills, it is even more important to develop an area of journalistic expertise — whether expressing yourself skillfully in words, images or digits. You are entering a field that’s undergoing tremendous change, but your ability to find, evaluate and communicate information are lifetime competencies that will serve you well no matter what path you pursue.

The SOJC offers a number of opportunities for students beyond the classroom. In addition to the large selection of SOJC student organizations, each year Super-J students travel to New York City to visit major news organizations and network with professionals, go to places like Alaska to create multimedia stories about climate change, and work as journalists around the world in nations such as Ghana, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Cuba.

Nikki Kesaris is a junior studying public relations at the SOJC. This is her second year writing for the SOJC Communication Office. In addition to working in the Communication Office, she is also the vice president of media and marketing for the PanHellenic Board of Fraternity and Sorority Life and an account executive for Allen Hall Public Relations.