English Majors In the Media
There are many different paths for English majors when it comes to choosing a career field post-graduation. Journalism and Broadcast Journalism are two of those paths that allow English majors to showcase their writing, analytical, and communicative skills. We sat down with two students who work in the media here at Clemson to hear more about their experiences.
What type of Clemson Media are you involved with?
Sophia: I am the former social media contributor and current sports writer for The Tiger newspaper. The Tiger produces weekly online issues and I have been apart of this organization for 2.5 years, beginning my second semester of freshman year.
Dawson: I am the former editor-in-chief of The Tiger Newspaper, as well as a former contributor and copy editor for The Chronicle.
What obligations do you have with these positions?
Sophia: As the former social media director, I was in charge of posting to The Tiger’s Instagram and Twitter. With Instagram, I would post when issues came out, fun stories, polls, and content to engage Clemson Students. With the Twitter, I posted each story individually with an attached caption and picture. I learned how to space out and schedule posts as well as practice posting unbiased and professional content. As a current sports writer, I choose a topic sent out from our sports editor, research and attend the game or event I am writing about, take notes, and write my story. My story is due by the end of the week as The Tiger is published online every Sunday. Contributing to the sports section is my passion, and I look forward to writing my article every week.
Dawson: As the former copy editor for The Chronicle, I would edit blogs for their website that was updated on a monthly basis. As a former contributor, I also had a poem published by the staff. It was an anonymous submission that the staff read and voted on, considered a peer-reviewed poem. From last spring until this past September, I worked for The Tiger. I was a copy editor first: I edited articles, checked grammar/ facts, ensured all content adhered to Associated Press Style and was intriguing for students. In Fall of 2018, I became the Associate Editor because I had many ideas for types of stories I wanted to include in The Tiger, and I wanted to take the paper in a different direction. I then took the position of Editor-In-Chief, but eventually stepped down because I was taking eighteen credits in school. Two big stories that occurred during my time at The Tiger, were about the South Carolina Secessionist Past displaying the Confederate Flag on I-93, and then the university taking down the grade distribution website, which many students were upset by.
What have you learned from this experience?
Sophia: I have learned that I truly have to know every detail about the sports I am covering. I have to know what is going on at all points of the game on the court or field. As a women, I understand that I am already behind the curve because people don’t expect me to know everything that is needed, so I have to prove myself and be on top of my game at all times. I am now very knowledgeable in numerous sports regarding what each position is and who is in that position, who each person is throwing to or covering, what the referee calls mean, which was a challenge at first to know all of these sports so in-depth. However, I have quickly learned how to adapt to each game and how to write about them well. As apart of The Tiger, I had the opportunity to go to a conference in Dallas called the College Media Association Conference. I was able to listen to numerous speakers and panels of experienced broadcasters, reporters, journalists, analyzers, newspaper and magazine writers for three days, and take in all of the information they had to offer. One of the most rewarding experiences of this job is seeing my name on an official newspaper, which is unreal as a college student.
Dawson: Through Tiger Media, I was able to test my writing and publishing in a low stakes environment which allowed me to grow as a writer. I practiced with the Associated Press Style of Writing and the experience overall prepared me for the freelance writing I did over the summer. From being editor-in-chief, I learned a lot about managing a group of people: I was basically trying to run a business. I gained useful people skills that I did not expect to gain, and enjoyed my time there.
What inspired you to apply for a position in this outlet?
Sophia: I applied for a position at The Tiger because when I came to college, I knew what I wanted to do. I looked into Tiger Media, and wanted to take advantage of all of the opportunities it offers. I really enjoy my time there because I know I can mess up, practice, get feedback from upperclassmen, and develop my style while not having the pressure of being perfect. I appreciate my fellow peers taking the time to explain to me what I need to edit in my papers and why I need to make those changes. I have developed my style, learned so much about myself, learned to take notes, and found what I am best at, which is feature stories and breaking news stories.
What attributes do you think students need to succeed in your position and in this organization?
Sophia: I believe that the three characteristics someone needs to succeed in this organization are that you have to be teachable, patient, and passionate. You have to be teachable as you are not going to be the best or even good starting out. You have to be willing to learn, take the time to sit down and find out what you need to improve on, and be able to tweak and grow within your reporting. You also have to be patient and passionate because you are working for free, and putting as much commitment and time into making these articles great means you have to love it.
Dawson: I believe you have to be willing to work and you have to be open to new ideas and criticism. What you turn in may not be the right style or content that is needed, so you have to be open to redoing it and trying to make it better. Being able to write well and think critically are key to producing interesting and successful articles.
Would you recommend for English majors to get involved in these outlets?
Dawson: I would recommend students to get involved with these outlets if they have the time, because I have learned how important English majors can be in every job. I learned that every single business in the world needs someone to edit their written content, and every English major should realize that they can work anywhere if they can market themselves well. English majors can do more than edit papers: they can content edit websites, do marketing for businesses, or run advertisement campaigns. There are so many ways to utilize the skills an English major has. Studying English is not about just literature – it’s learning how to effectively communicate and be persuasive, and those skills are always in demand.
Written By: Ashley Jones