My advice…no, don’t do it. I remember when I was thinking about my study options when I was younger. I had decided to pursue studying abroad. I wanted to disconnect from Finland, see the world and improve my English.

My choices on my majors were the following: journalism, graphic design or marine biology. I know the marine biology doesn’t really fit into the so called “arts” field like the others. But I had dived a very long time, I loved and still love the ocean and all the creatures living in it and it seemed very interesting. But when the time came to decide I chose journalism, why?

Well writing had helped me a lot when I was younger. I fell in love with it because it helped me to find my way out from a dark place in my youth. I had a very romantic idea about journalism as well, I saw myself writing about the wrongs of our planet, helping poor communities through words and making the world a better place.

I ended up doing my degree in Australia where I learned the ethics of journalism, the Australian media laws and skills in writing and researching. By the time I had graduated I had also figured out that to work for a publication you have to follow their guidelines and views. Yes…unfortunately journalism is biased in many ways. I ended up throwing myself into rock climbing and worked the field for the next eight years. It seemed a better option than writing for some media mogul who is lobbying for his own agendas. I realized that I wouldn’t be sitting in a café by the Mekong river and writing about the genocide that happened there years and years before. Basically, I did give up.

Many years later I met a journalist who was traveling around the world and writing meaningful words. He was very inspiring and when we started talking about journalism in general and if studying it helps to write what you want to write about. Well he repeated some words his mentor had repeated to him. I can only wish that someone had told me the exact words when I was younger.

“You shouldn’t study journalism, you should study the area you want to write about”.

Let’s break it down. Basically, if you are thinking about studying journalism, you are already fond of writing. You can probably write already. Of course, you would learn the techniques and writing styles in university, but then you can also go onto the Internet and find courses, TED talks and eBooks of great thinkers who can show you the path and a way to learn the techniques and more.

Look at it this way: you want to join an expedition with a scientific publication that is going to Madagascar to observe the coral reefs. You and another person go into the interview for the position of the writer for the trip:

  • Person 1 | Journalism degree | interested in the field of marine science
  • Person 2 | Marine science degree | interested in writing

Who do you think they would choose for the job?

Don’t study journalism, study what you want to write about. Read books about journalism ethics and law, watch TED talks and connect with writers. If you find it hard to find a starting line…here it is:

50 writing tools: Essential Strategies for every Writer by Roy Peter Clark