Oberlin Blogs

Journalism at Oberlin

April 28, 2019

Jason Hewitt ’20

Journalism isn't offered as a major at Oberlin, but there are definitely opportunities for aspiring journalists here.

When I first arrived to Oberlin, I genuinely thought I was going to be a physical therapist. This would have been fitting since Oberlin is one of the best STEM schools in the world. However, I had a realization in the first semester of my freshman year. I didn't want to be a physical therapist. I wanted to do something that involved writing, because that’s what I love to do. I took this one step further and realized that journalism is the field I desired the most. Then I started taking more classes in the English department. I loved those classes a lot more than any math and science class I took here. Because of this, I decided to declare my English major instead of a STEM major. It’s still really mind blowing to know that I found my true passion here. 

Of course, I have to consistently deal with one of the most annoying questions anybody could ask an English major: "What are you going to do with that?"

My answer? I wanted to be a journalist. Growing up, I always admired news anchors and writers, but I never thought I would be this dedicated to this craft. There was just one "problem" with my huge interest in journalism, and that's the fact that Oberlin doesn't have a journalism major. If Oberlin doesn’t have a journalism major, how would I be able to improve my journalistic writing? Luckily, this school has some phenomenal resources for aspiring journalists to take advantage of.

My first attempt at journalism came from my own creation. I started a website called Golden Standard Sports, which focuses on... you guessed it: sports journalism! I knew that I would have an advantage as a football player since I understand the perspective of an athlete. Creating my own platform and promoting it was one of the best things I could have done for my career in journalism, because people started reaching out to me, telling me that my articles were really good. It was almost surreal to see how many people really enjoyed my work, so I continued to write for the site. In fact, I used my work on the website for one of my winter-term projects. This is where the school’s resources come in. I started talking to more of my English professors about my career in journalism, and almost all of them recommended a journalism class that is taught by Professor Jan Cooper. (She’s great, by the way. 10/10 would recommend.)

Since Oberlin doesn't offer a journalism major, the class falls into the creative writing field here. Sure, it’s a little frustrating to know that Oberlin doesn’t have my desired major, but there’s a way to work around it.

Because of Oberlin’s liberal arts curriculum, I was able to gain more than enough knowledge on topics and perspectives that many sports journalists don’t have. In fact, Oberlin has produced a huge plethora of journalists here. Chris Broussard, one of the most esteemed sports journalists in the country, is an Oberlin alum. There are hundreds, if not thousands of Oberlin alums who pursued journalism after they graduated. Guess what that means for Oberlin students who are interested in journalism? The alumni network can help them a lot.

This can be accessed on your own, but you could also go to the career center for an even greater outreach. Along with my professors, my fellow peers would reach out to me and ask me to cover specific sports topics for them. After writing from my Golden Standard platform, I saw an opportunity to write for the Oberlin Blogs. I applied and accepted the position, and now I’m writing articles alongside a wonderful group of my fellow writers. I continued to write for Golden Standard and the Oberlin Blogs for a while. Then the Oberlin Review reached out to me. One of the sports editors saw the work I was doing and was really impressed with what she read. Because of the website I created, more opportunities started coming my way. If you get people to notice the work you do at Oberlin, they may provide you with opportunities you never thought about.

She asked me if I was interested in joining the staff, and I immediately accepted it. My first Review article was about the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl victory, and it was one of the most fun I had with a piece in a long time. I knew I wanted to stick around with the Review for the remainder of my time at Oberlin, and it’s all because of the resources and support I received from people.

After writing for the Review for a while, I wanted to try something a little different with my writing style. So I applied for The Grape and accepted a position as a staff writer. The articles I write for The Grape are a lot more relaxed than anything else I write about since it’s catered toward college students.

So that makes four wonderful writing platforms, but I wanted to write even more. 

This year, I was hungry for even more opportunities as a journalist, so I reached out to one of the editors at SBNation. He ran the Carolina Panthers’ page on the site, and the Panthers are my all-time favorite sports team. He responded by saying that he loved my articles and offered me a position on the team of writers. Once again, I immediately accepted the opportunity.

Ever since then, I have been writing for a total of four writing platforms. I know that may sound crazy, but it's not as stressful as it seems, especially since I’m writing about topics I love. I was able to do all of this without a journalism program. My English classes have taught me how to write from multiple perspectives. They’ve taught me how to apply deep analysis to difficult texts from nearly every literary time period imaginable. Most of my English professors do a phenomenal job at making sure their students critically think through a passage. It can be boring and even frustrating at times, but it has strengthened my writing quite a bit. The writing skills I develop in my English classes apply to nearly every form of writing I engage myself with. 

Oberlin may not offer a journalism major, but its English and creative writing programs provide Obies with enough knowledge to apply their abilities to different career paths that are outside of academia. 

This place shaped me into the journalist I am today. I can say this with 100 percent confidence. Without my wonderful English professors, I don’t know what I would do. They have guided me through these past three years with their immense wisdom on writing and analysis. Seeing how much my writing has improved since my freshman year at Oberlin feels unreal, and the credit goes to my professors, advisors, and fellow peers. All I had to do was apply the things I learned to my career path, and it turns out that it’s really not hard at all.

In fact, these techniques made me a much better writer. I figured that I could apply many of the same techniques I learned in other classes to my journalistic writing. It makes total sense for Oberlin to produce so many journalists. This school has more than enough tools and resources for aspiring journalists to thrive. You just have to find the opportunity to seize it. 

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