I am currently studying Print Journalism at Liberty University and loving every minute of it! My freshman year of college I was unsure of what I wanted to major in and I spent my first semester wondering what I should focus my studies on. I knew I loved writing, but it wasn’t until my friend mentioned journalism to me that I entertained the idea of news writing. After declaring a major in Communication Studies with a concentration in Print Journalism, I began wondering if this was really the right path for me. I loved writing, but my writing experience consisted of personal journals and creative writing, not news writing. So I was really hesitant about this style of writing when I took my first mass communication writing classes.
I didn’t read any newspapers or keep myself informed with what was going on in the world, so I was afraid that I could never catch on to this style of writing. I found news writing to be a big change from what I was used to. My personal writings were unfiltered and free flowing, I wrote whatever came to mind and whatever was on my heart. There was just something beautiful and romantic about this free form of writing. It was my own and I could do with it whatever I wanted. But news writing was a whole new world for me. I felt so restricted with what I could write. News writing gets right to the point, nothing fluffy or poetic in between. Just clean, concise accuracy and truth. My power felt limited. Because it was so different from what I was familiar and comfortable with, I started to question why I thought I wanted to pursue this major. This was certainly not the beautiful style of writing I had imagined myself creating. But as the class progressed, I began to find myself reading the New York Times more often and actually enjoying it. I became interested in this style of writing that was so completely different than anything I imagined myself writing. And so, I began to change my mind about the way I viewed news writing.
It wasn’t until last semester (Fall 2013) that I got my first taste of what journalism is really like though. My junior year at Liberty began with a very rough first day of classes. I was enrolled in a practicum class for writing for the school paper, the Liberty Champion, and after just the first class, I felt like I was in way over my head. I sat staring blankly at the people in my class, wondering if they were feeling as overwhelmed as I was. Deadlines were already being thrown at me and I was trying to swallow all that was required of me as a reporter for the feature section of the paper. All day long, I was trying to talk myself into dropping the class and taking it again at a later time when I would be ‘ready’ to take it. I just didn’t believe that I had what it would take to keep up with deadlines and write good quality articles. I was so stressed and really questioning why I had chosen this major and thought that I could handle it. However, after a long talk with my boyfriend at Starbucks, he convinced me to stick with the class. He said that he believed that I had what it would take to write for the paper. So, I decided to stick it out.
I am so thankful that I had such a strong support system during this time. My boyfriend and my family were there with me every step of the way, encouraging me and believing in me. And I did end up surviving the practicum class. Even though there were times when I felt like giving up, I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned so much about journalism while writing for the Liberty Champion and I ended up getting 6 of my 11 articles published, not bad for a beginner!
This semester I am not taking the practicum class. However, I am (or was) writing for the Liberty Champion for my Christian Service. This means that I am not getting academic credit nor am I getting paid to write for the paper, it is just volunteer work. I thought this would be a great way to stay involved with the paper. For my Christian Service, I had to write 5 consecutive articles for the paper starting the first week of classes. Writing for the paper this semester was a lot easier for me. I knew what was expected of me and I knew how the process of writing an article worked. I am happy to say that the 5 articles I wrote for the paper this semester were all published. That is definitely something I didn’t think I was capable of.
I can definitely say that I think I am on the right path and that I have chosen the right major now. I have a deeper appreciation for news writing and while this style of writing is not the romantic and poetic writing I had dreamed of creating, there is a simplistic beauty about it. I now have a desire to learn all different styles of writing like creative fiction (I am currently taking a class in creative fiction writing), creative non-fiction, poetry, news writing, etc. I love it all and am excited to delve deeper into each area of writing and immerse myself in the beauty of it. One of the things that I really love about journalism is that I get to meet and talk to all different kinds of people and learn about what it is they do. While I love this aspect of journalism now, it was the very thing that I feared most when I started writing for the paper last semester. I used to be such a shy, quiet and reserved person when I was younger, and at times I wondered if I would ever be able to overcome this. When I began my adventure of writing for the paper last semester, my shyness is something I was forced to get over. I was extremely nervous for my first interviews that I had to do, and I still get nervous now. But it’s something that I’m slowly learning to take control of.
While there are many things I have learned in my short time writing for the Liberty Champion, there are two important things that stand out to me. First, I learned that it’s so important to have a strong support system. If it wasn’t for the encouragement and support of my boyfriend and my family I probably would have given up. But because they had confidence in me when I had none left in myself, I was able to push forward and continue on. Second, I realized that I was trying to find an easy way out of a situation that intimidated and scared me by saying that I would take the class at a later time when I was ‘ready’ for it. If we always waited until we were ‘ready’ to do something, then we would never get anywhere in life. Sometimes we have to swallow our fear of the unknown and step boldly into the new situation. It’s true that you will never know until you try. As I continue to walk through my college career, I want to have this mentality of not being afraid of the unknown. Instead, I want to embrace every new situation and learn as much as I possibly can from it, whether it’s good or bad.