Building a journalism career from the ground up is not an easy task. With an academic background in religion and education, I never meant to build a career as a print or digital journalist. However, learning more about each genre has been enriching and surprisingly rewarding. In order to learn more about what it means to be a journalist, I decided to talk to a writer who was trained in the field of journalism. My main objectives were to learn about the importance of the field and its relevance in today’s society.
I recently had the opportunity to interview a seasoned journalist about what she learned at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. I could hear Betsey O’Brien smiling through the phone as she recalled her days of rushing across Northwestern’s campus to her journalism classes. Her passion for writing is apparent. As the creator of Pen & Hand, an online writing community, she teaches others to write freely without constraints.
“My degree trained me in print journalism,” says O’Brien. “We wrote on manual typewriters and had strict deadlines.”
According to O’Brien, she was taught to cultivate an objective eye and knowledge base. In the field of journalism, the main difference between now and the past is the attention to detail. As I watch movies like The Post that display how journalism looked in the 70s, I am mesmerized by their passion and zeal for news.
After writing for numerous digital platforms over the years, I have realized the importance of creating an organic brand that is authentic to my own voice. It’s not an easy task, but serves as the rubric for my writing career.
Journalism has changed so much over the last few decades. Print articles are now replaced by digital platforms which allow for more writers to curate content.
Though the field of journalism has changed, O’Brien’s passion for writing has not. Her digital community is growing quickly. She hopes to engage readers in a more intimate way by promoting journaling.
“Pen & Hand is a place to meet others who journal for perspective, for creativity, for life direction, or just for the hell of it. It’s a spot to meet new writer friends. It’s a place to find and exchange tips for getting the most out of your writing time, whether you spend 5 minutes a day or treat yourself to lovely, long sessions once or twice a week.”
To learn more, check out her Facebook page.