First Day Nerves

I start the summer session of my grad school program tomorrow, August 1st.  I’m all nerves today.

Outdated prescription theorizing that nuxated iron brings "roses to the cheeks of nervous, run-down women"

I’ll be attending a three-week intensive Journalism Boot Camp, designed to leave my brain dizzy with a survey of skills and possibility.  We have been told to expect field trips (possibly on the weekend – the horror!), guest speakers from alums and experts alike, and hands-on exercises (read: here’s one generous hour and a topic, now produce a web-ready article).  From my supplemental strolls through the Internet, I expect that among other tasks I will be required to: update a personal, professional WordPress blog and Twitter account; interview my classmates and report on those interviews; visit a local museum; learn basic HTML and CSS; and capture audio footage and then edit that content into slideshows.

But not to worry, I already know how to do all of these things and much, much more.  Ha ha.  By way of analogy, my digital journalism skills are to a sloth what the electromagnetic spectrum is to a radio frequency.  They both emit low energy in long wavelengths.  I can compose text rapidly and typically know when to use who vs. whom in a sentence, but am not nearly as comfortable with gadgets.  I can point and shoot my SLR camera (that was a smart investment!), set up a blog (see: www.groomedjournalism.wordpress.com), and discern simpler functions on my computer applications.  So there will be a learning curve, but I’m very willing and eager to learn these skills.

As far as technology requirements, I bought a new travel-sized notebook and some pens at the Borders store liquidation sale; is that enough?  No, you say the information age neglects those poor bound notebooks?  Fine, I’m in the market for a new Mac.  Trying to decide between the 13″ or 15″ screen, and my indecision is due to not knowing how often I’ll be lugging it around.  A traditional at-home monitor, keyboard, and mouse could aptly resolve this issue.  I will also need an external hard drive with at least 500GB of capacity and a Firewire drive.  I have yet to buy this wizardly storage system, but as someone who lost all of her photos/music/documents not once but twice, I look forward to finally investing in a back-up device.  A digital audio recorder might be the next purchase, but I plan on testing a few first or just using my handy iPhone.

I have done some prep work, but probably could have done more.  How so?  I suppose I could have read more books (including the ones that are collecting dust by sitting on my side table), practiced reporting and writing articles, and contacted fellow journalists to glean insight.  Or, I have dreamed of heading over to the New York Times or Washington Post headquarters to lean my head against the walls in hopes of chemical diffusion.  By the way, Diffusion, not be confused with Osmosis, is the process by which molecules spread from areas of high concentration (NYT, WaPo offices) to areas of low concentration (moi).  When the molecules are even throughout a space’s gradient, it is said to be in equilibrium.  (Two chemistry references in one post – and I claim to be right-brained!)  Fingers crossed for some semblance of equilibrium this year.

And I hope I’m not the oldest student in class.  There, I said it.

What I Will Learn in Journalism School (or Application Essay Redux)

I am inspired by the variety of career possibilities that stem from advanced study in applied and theoretical approaches to journalism.

A journalist balances the roles of observer, recorder, and curator.  Through my journalism training, I will be able to work independently and conceive innovative ideas depending on the topic and format, yet also collaborate within a team of multiple viewpoints.  My multifaceted interests, including such diverse silos as business, healthy living, and psychology, inform my perspective and thus my writing.

(Bear with me through the next set of affirmations, as it’s the only way to reconcile paying tens of thousands of dollars for instruction in a currently tenuous field.)  I will cultivate my writing style and personal voice as an author, learn to ask probing questions, and engage readers.  I will be able to create compelling content with staying power that plants indelible images and ideas in the minds of readers.  I will glean investigative training and learn how to adapt my approach for the platform, as well as for the audience, to be a powerful rhetorician and reporter.

I aim to expose readers to new topics and ways of thinking in a top quality, approachable fashion.  If “the medium is the message” as Marshall McLuhan asserted, I aspire for readers to follow my writing through inevitable changes in medium, whether magazines, radio broadcasts, or online moderated discussions, because of the credibility and skills that I have earned during professional journalism school.  It will build my aptitude for critical thinking, efficient communication, and swift decision-making, along with my credentials as a discerning and reliable source.  Ultimately, the rigors and structure of a graduate Journalism program will challenge and mold me into an effective communications leader.