We recently started hosting career panel discussions with our coaches, so we could share our knowledge and experiences to learn from each other. This career panel topic covers journalism and creative writing. Included on our career panel were three coaches: Coach Aaron, double majored in Mass Communications and English, was involved in his high school newspaper, and had a career in journalism; Coach Wyatt majored in Journalism and has experience blogging; and Coach Sara earned her master’s degree in English with a Creative Writing focus. Here are some interesting points from our discussion:
When you were in high school, what did you think you wanted to do for a career?
Coach Sara wasn’t sure; she just knew she wanted to study a foreign language. Coach Aaron liked being part of the high school newspaper, so that’s what got him interested in journalism. Coach Wyatt was more interested in geo-engineering and ROTC, and he was thinking of going into the military. He started out studying Geology/Geophysics and didn’t like it. He switched to Journalism because of his interest in blogging.
How did you first become interested in journalism or creative writing?
Coach Sara was part of UIL Creative Writing and UIL Spelling at different times and has a passion for writing novels in her spare time. Coach Aaron became interested when he worked for his high school newspaper. Coach Wyatt became interested through blogging.
We asked Coach Wyatt why he decided not to pursue a career in journalism.
During college he worked with high school students, so he decided to continue that after he graduated.
What was your favorite or least favorite part of studying Journalism/Mass Communications/English?
Coach Aaron didn’t like his Public Relations class because of his professor, and Coach Wyatt agreed. Coach Sara liked the fact that she was trained to write from different perspectives. It helped her with critical thinking.
Do you have experience with blogging?
Coach Sara has some experience blogging in the past. Coach Wyatt did some cage-side live blogging and reporting for Mixed Martial Arts events. He had to do flash editing, because he had a very short time to post the play-by-play. Blogging can pay well if you have a very strong network of followers, but it is very time consuming to get to that level.
We asked Coach Aaron to share his experiences working for the newspaper.
He started out writing for a community paper. These papers seem to be doing better than larger newspapers, because they’re the only way to get local news. There’s really a divide between new reporters fresh out of college, who tend to be interested in new technology and industry trends, and the old-school reporters who used typewriters and are more resistant to online news and social media. As a reporter, you have to talk to people a lot and go to events and rub shoulders with important people. One perk is that everyone in the area knows you if you work for a local paper. One downside is that sometimes you have to file legal documents like FOIA to get the information you need. Also, you might get backlash from people who don’t like what you’re writing. Once he became editor, Coach Aaron was doing very little writing – just editing and page setting. He ended up working about 90 hours a week and was getting very little pay, so he switched careers. When you work that many hours as a salaried employee, you basically earn minimum wage.
What would you tell someone considering a career in journalism or creative writing?
You should double major in something that could be a solid career like Public Relations. If you double major in Journalism and PR, it would normally only take you an extra semester since a lot of the classes apply to both majors. Also, you must decide if you want to write for fun or for a career. Realize that if you write for your job and are told what you have to write about, it can really hamper your creativity. You have to decide if you really want to write as a career or want to do it as a hobby and have another line of work. Also, you have to be really passionate about journalism to work your way up to a good position. Since this is a declining career, you could end up making minimum wage and not really getting to write what you want.
How has your training in journalism or creative writing helped you as a coach?
Coach Sara said that it has helped with seeing things from different perspectives since she speaks with so many people in a day. It helps her to shift her perspective when she works with people from different backgrounds.