Mr. McIntyre disagrees. He had a 30-year copy-editing career without benefit of a J-school degree. His school? Apprenticeship. He learned from established and talented copy editors.
Some newspapers smile kindly on a job candidate bearing a journalism degree, and, yes, I got a J-school degree for that reason. Did it get me my first job, or any job after that? No one ever said. But from what I've noticed, I agree with Mr. McIntyre. I've met some wonderful newspapermen who learned on the job without the benefit of a journalism degree. In fact, I learned early from a woman who had two arts degrees and a man who boasted a geology degree.
While I was in college, I worked at the Radford (Va.) College school newspaper, the interestingly-named Grapurchat (named reportedly because the school's original colors were purple and gray and the first editor was chatty). And I worked at the Radford College Office of Information and Publications. I learned a ton more there than I did in class.
Looking back, I might have double majored in journalism and something else I liked (perhaps choral singing) or minored in journalism. In the end, the work was more important in my growth than classes. Let me amend that: I loved Charles Milsaps' classes (boy, I hope I spelled his last name right; it's been a long time), and I learned a lot. Charles was a little like Ducky on NCIS; he even looked a bit like David McCallum. But he was amazed by how much I had improved in two years, and that's attributable to me working at the college newspaper and in the college information office.
Here's some free advice: You get out of college what you put into it, and a journalism degree can be useful at a lot of places other than a newspaper (or magazine) office or a radio or TV station.
And if you really want to be a copy editor or sports writer, don't let a philosophy degree (or an animal husbandry degree) get in your way.
But remember: Newspapers are laying off copy editors and reporters by the thousands. It's a tough business nowadays.
Contact: Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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