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What College Classes Do You Need to Take to Become a Journalist?

by Rebecca Gaunt, Demand Media Google

    Many college courses will help prepare you for a career in journalism. Writing and editing classes will cover the specifics of style. Courses in ethics will teach the guiding principles of journalists. And technology courses will ensure that you have the computer skills that are necessary in today's newsroom. It's also important to have well-rounded selection of core classes in history, science and the arts to provide perspective.

    Writing and Editing Classes

    Journalism writing can require a very specific style. The University of Georgia offers "Public Affairs Reporting," which covers techniques in writing and reporting about local government, business and health. You can also take courses that cover critical writing and reviewing for film, theater and music. Syracuse University offers the course "Reporting," in which "students report and write news stories from information gathered through interviewing, document research, database retrieval, and observation." Editing courses will typically teach and require adherence to the Associated Press Stylebook for grammar and style, which is typically the industry standard. Arizona State University offers "Introduction to Editing," which covers editing text, pictures and headlines. Courses will differentiate between writing for newspapers and magazines.

    Broadcast Journalism

    Arizona State offers "Television Reporting," which "builds storytelling techniques and news judgement." You can also take a course on videography to learn how to tell a story with pictures and sound. A course in newscast producing provides hands-on experience by requiring students to produce the school's nightly newscast. Howard University features courses in the fundamentals of scriptwriting and the principles of cinematography. Boston University offers credit for an internship offering on-the-job training at a radio or television station.

    Courses in Laws and Ethics

    It's important to have a foundation in journalism ethics and communication law. Law courses cover topics such as First Amendment issues, libel, obscenity, confidentiality, privacy and access to information. Principles and ethics courses cover the history of journalism and a variety of current issues that journalists face. For example, Boston University offers a course in media criticism that tackles subjects such as Iraq War coverage and whether "news-oriented personalities such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert elevate or debase the political process."

    Technology Courses

    The modern age of journalism requires a strong understanding of technology. The University of Georgia offers "Computer-Assisted Reporting" to hone skills in using spreadsheets, databases and electronic searches. Arizona State offers "Graphic Design for Print and Web" and utilizes design software such as InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. Boston University's "Editorial Design" course teaches Quark Xpress for page layouts. Photojournalism courses teach basic camera techniques, digital image production and photo editing. Courses in online media teach the use of programs such as CSS, Javascript, Jquery and Final Cut Pro.

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    About the Author

    Rebecca Gaunt earned a Bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a Masters in education from Oglethorpe University. She has been published in "The Red & Black," "The Athens Observer" and the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gaunt also taught elementary school for seven years.

    Photo Credits

    • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

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