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Ji Hyun Park

6 Reasons a Journalism Degree Is Still Necessary

There’s been much ado about why going to J-school is useless. You can learn to blog and write on the job, they say. The dearth of jobs means you probably won’t be able to cover the cost of those student loans, explain critics. But what about the pros of a formal journalism education?

For one, journalism grads are schooled on the basics of the biz, like handling embargoes, AP style and avoiding libel and slander claims.

“I was definitely in for a rude awakening when I started,” said Anne Urda, an assistant managing editor at Law360 with a master’s in journalism from NYU. “I thought, ‘Hey, I’m a decent writer, I can do this,’ but it really does require a different set of skills and an actual education in the importance of a good lede, asking the right questions of your sources, etc. etc. While you can pick that up along the way in a job, it’s very difficult to find the right mentor or someone who is going to take the time to school you in those fundamentals when you are up against real-world deadlines.”

Read more in Mediabistro’s latest AvantGuild feature, 6 Reasons a Journalism Degree Is Still Necessary, and let us know your thoughts. Was your degree worth it? [subscription required]

Can (And Should) Journalists Stay Purely Objective?

Roland Martin doesn’t think so.

“The idea of being objective is a ridiculous one. Let’s just be honest,” he said in Mediabistro’s latest So What Do You Do? interview. ”Everybody — I don’t care who you are — you have a viewpoint on something and on an issue. The difference is whether you chose to say something publicly, whether you chose to advance it… a whole different deal.”

The TV vet spoke of his decision to wear a hoodie in support of Trayvon Martin while hosting Washington Watch on TV One as an example. “I chose to wear the hoodie, because it was important beyond just the Trayvon Martin issue but to call attention to the issue of racial profiling,” he said.

Read more in So What Do You Do, Roland Martin, CNN Contributor and Host of TV One’s Washington Watch?

6 Huge Mistakes Journalists Make in Social Media

No. 4: You don’t post often enough.

Facebook and Twitter might be the big boys, but people read news on LinkedIn, too. And, while Google+ might not be racking up a ton of active users, if you’re on there, you should at least share something every now and then. The point is don’t leave your profiles barren.

So, pick a schedule: maybe three to five times daily for Facebook and 15 minutes a day where you line up all your tweets using Tweetdeck. And check back regularly to see if people have responded or shared your posts. An application like Twunfollow can give some indication of whether you are annoying your audience with irrelevant content. And, whatever you do, don’t cross-link your feeds. Each platform has its own needs and different audiences.

Get remedies for five more common errors in The Biggest Mistakes Journalists Make in Social Media. [subscription required]

GO Far With The Right Travel Story

Writing query letters are painful — unless you know exactly what the editors want to read. Enter mediabistro’s How To Pitch series, where editors break down exactly what they’re looking for from word count to which sections are prime for pitching.

Jaime Lowe, executive editor of Airtran’s in-flight pub GO, says an email with links to one or two clips that show clearly why you should be given the assignment, based on your experience, will have her jumping at her desk. “I definitely think that writing one really tight paragraph that is incredibly gripping is the most important part. “It just has to catch attention,” she explained.

For details on which sections Lowe is looking to fill, read How To Pitch: GO.

ag_logo_medium.gif This article is one of several mediabistro.com features exclusively available to AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, you can register for as little as $55 a year and get access to these articles, discounts on seminars and workshops, and more.

Lola Ogunnaike on the Journalism Degree Debate

Whether you’re a graduating senior or a professional switching careers, you know the debate over the true value of a journalism degree is always ongoing. In mediabistro.com’s So What Do You Do? interview, freelancing heavyweight Lola Ogunnaike settles the score.

“If you studied journalism in undergrad, then I don’t think a graduate school degree in journalism is necessary,” said Ogunnaike, who has penned more than two dozen cover stories for everything from Elle to Rolling Stone. “But if you’re new to the craft, I definitely think some education is required.”

Ogunnaike, who earned her Master’s degree in journalism from NYU, says it’s not crucial to shell out $70,000 or $80,000 to understand the intricacies of the field. “I think people underestimate how difficult journalism is. It’s not just sitting at your computer and spouting off your opinions about Beyoncé’s dress at the Met Gala. There is a structure to it, and I feel like that is sorely lacking in a lot of what’s being passed off as journalism today.”

Read the full interview.

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