I took up journalism, and you should too.

LUSU releases results of election

By Leah ching

Leah Ching

Two years ago, I took up journalism as a part time contributor for the Argus Newspaper. This year, in addition to contributing to Thunder Bay’s Walleye Magazine, I’m back at the Argus, this time as Editor-in-Chief after a year serving as a staff writer.

Today, I couldn’t imagine pursuing other professional endeavors without being involved in the world of journalism in some way. Becoming a journalist has enriched my life in countless ways; from the friends I’ve made, to the late nights transcribing recorded interviews, to catching glimpses of people reading my articles in coffee shops. In an age of growing disdain with the entertainment-news industry, sensationalized headlines, and general distaste for journalists altogether, I thought I’d share five of my choice reasons why becoming a journalist can be so rewarding.

1. Journalism will introduce you to a fantastic community of writers and creatives.
Writers, editors, artists, photographers, graphic artists, poets. Each staff member of a journalistic publication brings unique aspects of their creative personality to the table. If you’re looking for a creative atmosphere, there’s nothing like a content meeting where ideas are being thrown back and forth. You’ll laugh, you’ll probably argue, and if you’re lucky, you’ll make some amazing friends that will not only make your time as a journalist fun, but will also help you grow as you bounce ideas off each other, collaborate, and work together to create an awesome publication. Seeing talent and creativity manifest itself into a collaborative finished product is always an amazing experience.

2. Journalism will put you in touch with the most interesting of people, and help to enhance your interpersonal skills.
As a sometimes-introvert, I can undoubtedly say that performing interviews has been the most rewarding part of being a writer. When I first started, I thought good interviews were something reserved for the top tier of extroverted journalists at MacLeans. After getting training from my more experienced co-workers, I learned that interviews are a lot less intimidating than they look and are able to get the shyest of writers out of their shells. The best interviews flow like unscripted conversations, and questions end up being more like talking points that lead into other questions and areas of discussion. For me, the best part of being a journalist has been sharing pitchers of beer with interesting interviewees, hearing about people’s lives and passions, and realizing how lucky I am to have the opportunity to make these connections.

3. Journalism will help to improve your academic, creative, and professional writing skills.
At many times, being bad at writing means being bad at communication. Your resume, letters and emails to colleagues and superiors, applications, and statements of interest – these are not only the reader’s first impression of you, but reflections of who you are and how you communicate. Making a bad first impression through sloppy writing is undesirable to say the least. Journalism and the research, writing, and reading that comes with it, is an easy way to sharpen up your skills. You’ll learn from editors who have been where you are, and over time, you’ll develop a distinct voice as a writer that is entirely your own and that sets you apart from the crowd. You’ll feel proud of yourself when you walk into a job interview and the interviewer remarks about how eloquently-written your cover letter was.

4. Journalism gives you something to be proud of.
There’s not many things that feel as good as sitting across from someone at a coffee shop who’s reading your article, or having your high school teacher say that she has an article written by you on her fridge. There’s a simple pleasure to knowing that the media that you create is being enjoyed and contemplated by others. That Saturday night when you’re on your couch battling writers block and wracking your mind for the right adjective will all be worth it on the Wednesday when you spot your article on the stands.

5. Journalism will make you a more informed consumer of media and the news
Today’s abundance of media outlets is awesome. Consumers get a wide variety of choices and get to enjoy publications that are geared toward their lifestyles and opinions. At the same time, the amount of sensationalized, entertainment driven news can be overwhelming, annoying, and sometimes disheartening. Becoming a journalist helps you to pick out the best news media for you, not necessarily the most impartial, or the most “tailored to your world view,” but somthing that works for you in an informative and interesting way. Becoming a journalist teaches you to stop wasting time reading articles about human tragedies that are badly written and geared to garnering an emotional response. You’ll find yourself easily seeing the difference between media that’s geared to selling you an idea or a product, and media that’s crafted to inform you or make you think.

As a writer, you create the kind of media you’d like to read and that you’d want others to read. So in a world of clickbait and who-wore-it-better articles, you have the opportunity to create something worth reading, and to only consume the media that’s actually worth your time. I think there’s something awesome about that.

In closing, people always ask me, “Isn’t it scary putting your writing out there?” and “Aren’t you scared people will call you a bad writer?” My reply to that is that someone, somewhere will always disagree with what you have to say, how you phrased it, or just outright dislike what you write.

You have to have confidence about your writing. Looking back and cringing at something you once wrote is good, because it means that you’re growing as a writer. Yes, you’ll probably make monumental f-ups, and you’ll have to apologize and re-cant a few times. That’s okay. Have faith in yourself and your ability, and constantly remember that the more you read and write, is the more you grow in your ability.

As Jack Kerouac had to say about critics, “If critics say your work stinks it’s because they want it to stink and they can make it stink by scaring you into conformity with their comfortable little standards.”

In the end, I can’t list all the ways journalism will enrich your life, so I won’t. But I will say, if I’ve piqued your interest, email your school paper, talk to your local arts and culture mag, or send in a piece for submission to your local paper. You can thank me later.

Editor’s note: I originally wrote this in the Summer of 2016 for my personal blog, leahching.com, when I was gearing up to return to The Argus as the editor of the News section. Quite a lot has changed since then, but my love for journalism remains the same.

In an interesting turn of events, I ended up being the EIC at The Argus this year, which is an experience that I am eternally grateful for. Next year, I will be serving the students as LUSU’s President, but until the end of this academic year, I’ll be at The Argus doing what I love amongst a team of workers that are some of the most amazing folks that I’ve ever met.

If you’re interested in getting involved in writing and journalism, whether you have lots of experience or none at all, shoot me an email at editor@theargus.ca, I’d love to hear from you. Also, keep an eye out, as The Argus will start it’s hiring process for the upcoming school year very soon!


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