The overall employment of reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts is projected to decrease by 10 percent from 2018 to 2028, eliminating nearly 5000 jobs, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Despite that, Eastern Nazarene College (ENC) has kept the Journalism and Writing major, but seen those students leave ENC wanting more.
As first-year students, many ENC students come in with high expectations for what they are going to do within their major. This was the case for Jonni Parsons (née Albetta), who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Writing in 2017. Initially entering ENC in 2013 as undecided, Parsons became interested in studying Journalism and Writing after being advised by career services. “I was expecting a lot more hands-on experience,” said Parsons on her expectations of the major. “I didn’t get that at all.”
Parsons benefited from the smaller classroom environment that the major provided. She “loved the professors she had” and wishes she had taken more classes that would have allowed her to express herself. Parsons decided to enroll at ENC after a V.I.P weekend experience that made campus feel like home. Although other schools could not match the attachment she felt to ENC, Journalism and Writing major’s standing within the college left her disappointed. “I went on a campus visit to Southeastern University in Florida and saw that they had a whole studio program and they would take field trips, and I remember being bummed the journalism students [at ENC] never took a field trip, never got to go anywhere, and never got to do anything really exciting.” The 2017 ENC graduate opted for a career in marketing instead of journalism and now works as the founder and director of Sunday Morning Marketing.
Going to school in Boston, as opposed to Florida, created more opportunities to work for acclaimed businesses and publications within proximity to your education; at least that’s what Amber Amortegui believed upon enrolling at ENC in 2016.
“I remember passing by the Boston Globe while touring ENC and thought it was really special to be so close to a renowned publication.” Amortegui figured since the college was so close to the Boston Globe that the Journalism and Writing program would be “decent.” Reflecting on her freshman year as a Journalism and Writing major, Amortegui understood her talents would be best suited at another college. “I knew that journalism was such a broad topic that entailed videography, radio, and audio, and I knew I wasn’t going to get that at ENC. I didn’t know if I enjoyed being behind a camera and didn’t think I was going to find that out if I stayed at ENC.”
Like Parsons, Amortegui enjoyed her professors, who have left after her transfer, but was far more passionate about pursuing a career in journalism. Amortegui longed to write meaningful stories but felt like the program she was in focused more on on-campus news. Her revelation became more evident when she transferred to Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida, and her newspaper adviser prohibited their news publication, the Beacon Today, from writing anything related to the campus. “Employers don’t care about who won the volleyball game on campus, as much as they care about whether students can reach out to public officials and go into the local community and report on issues,” Amortegui recalls being told by her newspaper adviser at Palm Beach Atlantic. This sentiment is also shared by Cody Shepard, who graduated from ENC in 2014 after studying Journalism and Writing. Now working at the Brockton Enterprise, the local newspaper in Brockton, Massachusetts, Shepard believes ‘hands-on experience is the best kind of experience you can have in journalism.’
Shepard was the Editor in Chief for the Veritas News from 2012-2014 at ENC and credited his experience within the Editing and Publishing course as to why he was able to succeed in the program. “Students should be given every opportunity possible to be working with the college’s newspaper and, if they want, taking part in internships in the profession.” Shepard interned with the Patriot Ledger in his senior year of college before landing a position with the Brockton Enterprise within months after graduating.
The lack of hands-on experience is being addressed as the administration works to find a new full-time Communication Arts professor for the Fall 2020 semester. Hopefully, the current Journalism and Writing majors can defy odds like those before them and make an impact on journalism and writing.