Guest Post: Leaving Journalism Behind

This post was written by one of my best friends @BrittanyEBurke.

I’ve known Jon for a few years now, so when he asked me to come in as a guest blogger I was flattered. We were colleagues on the school paper, The Recorder, him as news editor and me heading up sports. While we were co-workers, most importantly, we are friends and I admire his thirst for information.

It wasn’t uncommon for me to sit in our office on Monday nights bouncing ideas and arguing with Jon about my sports column for the upcoming issue. He wasn’t afraid to tell me what he thought and, more often than not, we decided to agree to disagree, but that’s what makes our friendship so awesome, for lack of any other way to describe it.

With the amount of arguments we had within the walls of our office or Willard 214, it doesn’t surprise me that he pokes at the idea of me leaving behind journalism in favor of public relations. I suppose it’s more of a curiosity, which makes sense with Jon’s journalistic instincts.

See, when he graduated in December he opted to go straight into the journalism field covering multiple towns in Connecticut. I, on the other hand, would poke my eyes out if I had to do that day-in and day-out, and he knows that. So, a couple of months before graduation, I made the decision to go to grad school at CCSU for PR.

When he asked me to guest blog he said I could write about anything, but added that he’d really like to know how I make the switch from being a journo to being a public relations specialist. I’ll gladly write about when the fall semester begins. While I haven’t begun my grad classes, I did get a taste of the PR life last semester and I’ll tell you right now, the transition will not be easy.

Will it suck? Probably. But will it be worth it? Yes. I explored the idea of public relations because the journalism field is changing so drastically that it only made sense to expand upon my talent, which is writing.

The hardest thing that I’ll have to overcome isn’t even the physical writing differences between journalism and PR, it’s the mental differences.

George Orwell once said, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations,” and he is right. That will be the hardest thing for me to get used to.

For the past three years I have been taught the principles of such greats as Woodward and Bernstein, who stopped at nothing to uncover the truth. I have been taught that it is my first priority to inform the public to the best of my ability and that is what I have always tried to do. I learned quickly how to toe the line between having good, working relationships with sources and becoming someone’s publicist…ironic, I know.

Now, I have to virtually throw my ethics out the window and forget everything I’ve learned, minus the difference between hard and soft news (PR people love journos willing to cross over to the dark side because we can write). I have to learn how to spin information to best fit the source and not inform.

It’s going to be rough, and it’s going to make for an interesting couple of years because I’m not casting the journalist in me aside, I’m trying to better it.

Want to read more from Britt? Check out her blog here. Look for my reaction post tomorrow!

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One Response to Guest Post: Leaving Journalism Behind

  1. Pingback: Addicted to News « Just Starting Out

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