English and Journalism

What Good is a Degree in Journalism?

Journalism graduates aren't confined to print media, of course. Although Western Journalism graduates work in daily and weekly newspapers in different markets, they also have careers in public relations offices of corporations, offices of public officials and political figures, advertising agencies, nonprofits and advocacy groups, magazines, etc. Journalism graduates become lawyers, entrepreneurs, grant writers and creative designers as well as reporters, editors and photographers. Others pursue graduate study in journalism, liberal arts fields, business, law, or education. As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Friedman says, “Imagination is the single most important characteristic; the liberal arts is the best fountain for imagination.”

Career Options to Consider

  • Legal assistant
  • Legislative aide
  • Lobbyist
  • Manuscript reader
  • Media planner
  • Online editor
  • Photojournalist
  • Proofreader
  • public administrator
  • Public information staffer
  • Public relations specialist
  • Publishing assistant
  • Sales representative
  • Sportswriter
  • Teacher
  • Technical writer
  • Web producer
  • Account executive
  • Ad copywriter
  • Analyst
  • Announcer for TV/Radio
  • Broadcaster
  • Consultant
  • Consumer Advocate
  • Correspondent
  • Creative director
  • Critic/commentator
  • Desktop publisher
  • Editorial assistant
  • Environmental researcher/writer
  • Fantasy sports journalist
  • Freelance writer
  • Information services
  • Interpreter

Why consider a career in journalism?

Journalism provides an almost unlimited foundation for many pursuits. Consider America’s first notable columnist Ben Franklin, who started out as a printer and became a journalist—plus an inventor, statesman and leader. Dave Lieber of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists wrote that Franklin “was also what I would call America’s original ‘information entrepreneur’.”

In fact, journalism can prepare you for virtually anything—and typical Americans will have more than a dozen jobs in their lifetimes and will change careers three to five times. Every law enforcement grad won't become a homicide detective in a major city; most dance grads won’t perform professionally; some business grads won’t work in commerce; all French grads don’t become translators.

Journalism grads aren’t limited with their talents; they’re empowered by their abilities.

Journalism students learn to find and digest information and present it with clarity and brevity. At WIU, we don’t indoctrinate students for one field; we’ve never been a vocational program for one type of work. Journalism majors and minors develop skills valued throughout the economy throughout the ages.

Here are a few folks trained in journalism using those skills in other work:
  • Recording artist, novelist and businessman Jimmy Buffett
  • Illinois State Representative David Leitch
  • Chicago attorney Tom Kittle-Kamp
  • Lutheran seminarian Christine McNeal
  • Editor-in-chief of Cars.com Patrick Olsen
  • Nobel Prize-winning environmentalist Al Gore
  • Sofi's Stitches CEO Valerie Lilley
  • Standup comic Lisa Lampanelli
and recent WIU grads:
  • U.S. Army Major, David Thompson
  • Comic-book author, Chris Ward
  • Nonprofit communications specialist, Lynne Senne

Accomplished Journalists

Renee C. Byer

Renee C. Byer
Sacramento Bee photojournalist

Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol (1995 WIU grad)
Chicago Sun-Times reporter
and 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner

Nancy Loo

Nancy Loo
Fox News Chicago

Clarence Page

Clarence Page
Chicago Tribune

Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi
Rolling Stone magazine

Markos Moulitasas Zuniga

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga
Daily Kos.com/The Hill

more journalists