So you want to be a journalist?

8:30 a.m. Thursday:
I’m here at the Marcus Whitman Junior High School Career Fair. The students have a lot of questions for me. How did you get into journalism? Why did you get into journalism? Is your job physically demanding? What kinds of stories do you write? What have you learned about yourself from being a journalist?


I appreciate their enthusiasm. I’ve got to say it’s charged my batteries.

The students were interested to hear about how members of the public can post their own stories, photos and videos on the Kitsap Sun website. If anyone needs help with this or more information, contact me at or (360) 792-9219.

I had a few questions of my own for the students. Here’s what some of them had to say about journalism and the prospect of entering this rapidly changing field.

(Since I had the kids typing on my laptop, before long, my area began to look just like the Kitsap Sun newsroom. Well, you know what they say, “Messy desk = a busy mind.” You should see Chris Dunagan’s.)

Reasons I might want to be a journalist …

Writing, exploring all kinds of things you never would of thought of doing. It draws me getting to write about all kinds of different things. Being able to put your own voice in things as well as give out useful information to other people. What an exciting kind of job. — Andee Morgan

Reasons why I might want to be a journalist is to share with people about everything that is happening in our school, town, state, maybe even country. Also, to be heard be people, to share my voice, and to let everyone know what is really happening in the world around them. — Anna Lind

I’m here at Marcus Whitman Junior High, and I’m involved with the journalism class. In the class, we get to go around and interview people, write about the top news in our own words, and even do surveys. I would want to get into this field because I was very interested in being in the class. I would want to go further into the journalist training. I would want to share my thoughts about things and tell them my ideas. It’s something that I want to go into further consideration with. — Gabe Loch

I came here with no interests in journalism and now I have decided to reconsider. I might be interested in writing about the community in general with the crimes and our very own hometown heroes. There’s always a good story somewhere to write about! — Mandy Martin and Kendyl Delacruz

My view on journalism is that it’s a way for you to tell your friends, family, neighbors or just about anyone about current news or events that could help them in many ways either helpful or not. It could be important for them, like the traffic or if someone dangerous is about so they could be aware of that, etc., but its just a fun way to express yourself. —Alec Friend

I might want to be a journalist because I can express my own feeling in a creative way. I am already a creative writer, and I have found out that I love making my stories fun and I want to make my readers laugh. But also get a point across. — Bailey Arnett

Bailey Arnett types a blog entry for the Kitsap Sun, Feb. 3, 2011.

The reasons to be a journalist are endless. Listening to people, different stories, and finding out things that you were clueless about just adds to the knowledge you can gain by choosing this for a career. Not only can you express your creativity but you can also have a good time(: — Kenzie Blowers

A main reason to be a journalist is not only to inform the public of events around them but also to learn about the environment yourself. It’s a great way to enjoy writing for all aspiring authors while serving people with your talents. — Emily Beyl

One of the main reasons I want to be a writer is it’s a fun way to express yourself. —Hailee Dombrosky

Me again …

I also heard from die-hard newspaper lover, Laurie Beitel, a paraeducator at the school. Beitel’s no technophobe, but she just prefers the paper version of the “newspaper.”

“I like reading the paper and having it in bed with a cup of coffee,” she said.

On the future of journalism, she said, “I think journalism is super important, and I think it’s important to have reliable newscasters and reliable reporters.” With the volume of information on the Internet, she said, it’s important to have someone to “synthesize that.”

Disclaimer: I did not ask these folks to say positive things about journalism, and all I had to bribe them with were Kitsap Sun pencils and refrigerator magnets.

As for the student’s questions, many were similar to those I answered at last year’s career fair.

The one about what I’ve learned about myself as a journalist was a new one, however. I had to think about it a few minutes. I responded that the industry has changed dramatically over the past five years. It’s been dicey and exciting and exhausting all at once. What I’ve learned about myself is that I’m capable of change. Not only that, I enjoy change. I like the novelty of ever the changing landscape of our coverage area (that’s really the core of journalism). I also appreciate the new ways we have of disseminating information and interacting on a daily basis with our readers. I’m also able to roll with changes in my own life better as a result of responding to changes in the industry.

And no one had to bribe me with pencils to say that.

Chris Henry, reporter

One thought on “So you want to be a journalist?

  1. Thanks for doing the Career Fair Chris. The youth of our world respond so much more eagerly and excitedly to opportunities when they have a real living breathing example standing in front of them.

    While I did take one year of journalism in the seventh grade, writing was not something I was very good at in school, aspired to or connected with at all until I was well into my 30’s.

    A good lesson kids, you do not need to decide on an entire lifetime career when you are between 18 and 24. Life changes and you change. Keep all the doors open and be receptive to occasionally heading in a new direction.

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