The world needs more than journalists


The day I started working on this column, a number of my Facebook friends were passing around an article called “Why Every Business Should Hire a Journalist.” And while I agree with that premise, I was thinking just the opposite thought—that journalism needs practitioners who aren’t journalists.

This semester, there are at least fifteen Collegian staff members who aren’t journalism majors, including editor-in-chief Julian Wyllie, who’s a business major. They’re bringing a different perspective to the paper.

“The way I look at it is, if you’re a writer, if you like to learn things, that’s more important (than what your major is)”, Wyllie told me. “If you understand and you read a lot and you understand how news works and you understand how to make something complicated seem simple, that’s more important than having a certain major.”

Contributing to the Collegian has always been an option for all Butler students, regardless of their major. The paper benefits from non-majors in a number of ways.

Although we think of Butler as a small school, with six colleges and 60-plus majors, it’s impossible to know what’s going on everywhere.

Non-journalists broaden the staff’s breadth of knowledge. A journalism major might not think to write a story about the College of Business’s internship program. But a business major would. And did.

Ideally, broader coverage will increase the reach of the Collegian. When students see themselves reflected in the stories, they’ll want to read the paper.

Non-journalists also bring specific expertise. Wyllie said he recruited music writers from the Jordan College of the Arts (“Who better to cover music than people who know music?”) and an artist from the art + design program.

The non-journalists get back plenty, too. They learn to do what journalists do—find information, distill that information to its essence and tell a story. Those are skills that will translate to any number of fields.

I emailed the non-journalism majors to ask why they joined the paper. Opinion columnist Alex Bartlow, a freshman finance and accounting double major, said he likes to write and wants to connect with other students through his articles.

“I think it’s good for non-journalism majors to work for the Collegian because it adds different talents, perspectives and skills to the writing in the paper,” he said. “The Collegian is also a great opportunity to build upon your writing skills and learn the ins and outs of a newspaper.”

Christian Hartselle, a first-year English-Spanish-digital media production major who also writes for the opinion pages, said he joined “to see what I wanted to do with my interests.”

“Being published regularly is good experience, and it offered me a platform to share my work,” he said, adding: “I’ve learned a lot about Butler in general from this job. It’s a practical and independent work experience, and that’s why non-journalism majors should apply.”

Copy desk chief Justina Kaiser is a sophomore majoring in international business and mathematics. She said it’s good for non-journalism majors to work on the Collegian because “it’s about communication, in a way that informs but doesn’t hurt, in a way that tells the full story clearly and concisely. Beyond that, non-journalism majors provide a different view to the paper, as well. With our variety of students, we have more luck making sure every aspect of campus is covered.”

As Wyllie said, the goal is to have more students read the paper.

“Having more people in different avenues of Butler contribute,” he said, “is more important than what their major is.”