Do not study journalism if you want to be a journalist…

Easter Holiday is almost finished, for students who will take A level or GCSE tests on May and June, as well as those Chinese students who will go to the ‘Gaokao battlefield’ in June. There is not too much time to waste.

However, the exams are not the termination; turns out, this is only a start point for life. As subjects or majors, that you are choosing to do for the next three or four years might lead you to the future that you never expected.

Jon Snow

For those who wants to be a journalist, honestly speaking: do not study journalism study. I am not the one who said that, but I totally agree with it. As a matter of fact, this is the answer from the English journalist and television presenter Jon Snow to a student who raised the question about journalism study back to a year ago at the Polis Conference: Journalism & Crisis.

Jon Snow studied Law though he didn’t finish it. The interesting thing is if you search the top journalists around the world, it is not surprising to find the majority of them did not enrol the ‘Journalism course’ when they were at school. Though they might continue their further study in journalism study.

From the left to right: Katie Couric, Anderson Cooper; Arianna Huffington

American political commentator Bill O’Reilly received his bachelor degree in history; Barbara Walters has a B.A. in English from Sarah Lawrence College; Anderson Cooper studied political science at Yale University; American investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s major in history and English literature; Katie Couric graduated from UVA with the bachelor degree in American Studies.

Even those top journalists in China have all kinds of educational backgrounds. Shui Junyi studied English Literature; Zhang Quanling graduated from Peking University with the degree in German studies; Sa bei’ning has the master degree in Law study. Accordingly, the most famous investigative journalist Chai Jing did accounting for her college degree.

Moreover, Jon Snow encouraged students to choose some subjects that you really can LEARN something, though it might be boring like law or medicine. From my perspective, unless you would like to be a researcher in Journalism Study or a lecturer, studying journalism might be an obstacle for your career. I used to work with people who graduated from the major of the journalism study, most of them seems more like a bookworm, instead of a frontline journalist who has creative thinking and independent thoughts.

Journalism study might narrow your thoughts or standardised the way you think which might not good for your future career. Though you do not need to study journalism to be a journalist, you still need to have the passion. Most of those top journalists around the world were writing for their school newspapers when they were at schools or have a great interested in storytelling. 

It seems being a journalist could be the easiest job to do. Well, you are wrong. No matter who you want to be, a doctor, a teacher, or a lawyer, everyone has their own skills. Being a journalist is not as easy as you think. A journalist needs to have their own angles of viewing issues, great writing skills, storytelling skills, being objective and being critical…

Moreover, when social media came to our life, the concept of ‘citizen journalist’ went viral, and the fake news spread to everywhere (The Fake News Show – It is not only about the British humour). I don’t know others, but the very first thing when I become a journalist is being told that I have to responsible for every single word I wrote or said.

Further, if you are willing to be part of the newsroom team, you need to know everything, but no need to be a professor; prepare your ready-to-go bag and standby for 24 hours…

Well, good luck!


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