Thursday, November 20, 2008

Diary of an Indecisive, Frustrated Jouralism Student

The other day in my Intro to Journalism class, we had a guest speaker, Corinna Zarek, who is the Freedom of Information Director at the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press. What a mouthful. When I got the e-mail announcing our guest, I honestly wasn't really enthused with the selection. I had never heard of this woman or this organization, and for all I knew, this was going to be one boring lecture. But, points of discussion from this lecture will be on future quizzes and the final, so I decided it would behoove my grade to show up.

It was the best decision I made! I loved the subject matter. What the RCFP does is pretty much advocate on behalf of American journalists. They help journalists gain access to public record (such as court hearings, public documents, etc.), and fight on behalf of the journalist for the rights to access that record, as it is in the public's interest. There was a long discussion about a Federal Shield Law that is trying to be pushed through Congress, which would protect journalists from giving up their confidential sources. This is a pretty controversial subject, because in some cases, the reporter should be obliged under the law to reveal certain information. In any case, the topic completely fascinated me. I've never been so attentive in that class! The RCFP is doing something great: fighting on behalf of the little guy. I've always been pretty interested in political science and constitutional law, and while I never quite knew what I could do with that, I thought this would be a good start. In my mind, I thought: Law's really not that difficult, writing briefs and such, and arguing on one's behalf. I like arguing. It can't be that bad.... right?

I fool myself sometimes into thinking that I can be a lawyer, haha. :) But really, this part of law really interests me! So I'm definitely keeping my options open on that front. We'll have to see how the rest of college treats me first, then I can focus on bigger things, like law school and fighting for the underdog. This discussion was what I needed. It reignited my passion for journalism, something which has been missing all this time since high school.

In the meantime, I'm on the hunt for a good internship or scholarship opportunity with any news organization who will take me. It's incredibly difficult to get a start in this business! I checked out the website for the Radio-Television News Directors Association. In high school, I remembered there was this awesome scholarship that was offered every year. I wondered if some form of that scholarshp was available to undergrads, but alas, it's only available to undergrads who have an RTNDA chapter at their J-school. I checked out the list. Guess who doesn't have an RTNDA chapter.

Yep. I don't even have to say it. ;)

Apparently, the RTNDA only has chapters at schools which offer courses in radio and television journalism-- two of the very same forms of journalism which FIU decides not to teach in great detail. It's pretty--nay, very-- frustrating to think that your school only really recognizes one form of journalism as the "true" medium. I sit in class hearing people talk about margins and copy and all the while I'm thinking they're speaking Chinese. Talk to me about camera angles, headroom and lead-ins and we'll get along fine. But what makes it more difficult is the fact that, since FIU focuses mostly on print journalism, most of the scholarships and internships that they offer are through newspaper outlets. In fact, FIU just struck a deal with the three largest tri-county area papers: The Palm Beach Post, Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald, to establish a partnership between the three papers and the School of Journalism. Don't get me wrong, this is a great step for the SJMC! It's a great opportunity for a print major. But I'm feeling really left out here! Where are the opportunities for broadcast news majors? It seems like even Advertising and PR get more opportunities than we do! It's a really frustrating situation. Maybe I'm overreacting... hopefully the classes will get progressively more interesting as the semesters roll by, and as I get more involved in broadcasting and reporting classes.

Only time will tell, I guess. Here's to hoping for opportunity to come knocking. I'm ready!

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