Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Earning my MA in Journalism: Before and After

Stephanie Ewing

We did it! In just one year and four months, each person in my cohort earned an MA in Journalism degree. To celebrate, let’s look back a little. Here’s my before and after story:

Before earning my MA in Journalism:

Somehow, I (naively) thought I’d be surrounded by books on communication theory or digging around for data on the remotest reaches of the internet to craft the most high-profile investigative journalism story ever published.

After earning my MA in Journalism:

There was no time to sit around in a castle made of books! Journalism is made for adventuring out in the world. And the internet, even in its vast immensity, pales in comparison to the sheer volume of information and stories locked inside the head of one, single human being. Even investigative journalism relies on you talking to real, live human beings mostly during typical 9-5 business hours. In journalism, people are your texts. It’s cool like that.

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Before earning my MA in Journalism:

I used to be unclear about what kind of jobs were available for someone with a Master of Arts in Journalism with a concentration in Public Affairs Reporting. I assumed there were two career trajectories for me: working for NPR or not working for NPR.

After earning my MA in Journalism:

I’ve tried my hand at a number of different journalism jobs in grad school. In fact, there are so many amazing opportunities available that I have a number of career paths open to me as an editor, freelance reporter, writer, web guru, communications or public relations maven.

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Before earning my MA in Journalism:

I used to be petrified of other people reading my writing and subsequently judging me. I didn’t really know what my voice as a writer sounded like because I was too afraid to speak up.

After earning my MA in Journalism:

Now, after months of writing what feels like mountains of stories, reading it to classmates and professors for critique, having it under the knives of countless editors, and publishing it online for the whole world to read, I am no longer afraid of putting my work out there.

When I started looking for graduate journalism programs, I spoke with several working journalists. One said I should never go to j-school if I was serious about becoming a better writer. The one thing he wanted was to develop his voice as a writer, he said, and he never got that from his j-school classes.

Depressed, I decided to tool around several graduate program websites to see if they had anything to offer me. When I landed on Columbia’s page, I saw a student spotlight of Devin Katayama, who now works for an NPR affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky.

That’s when I read this:

His expectations were met—the program has helped him develop his own journalistic voice and schooled him in the practical methods of hunting down a narrative. He has also learned how to approach journalism with a sense of self-awareness… Students in the program work closely with the faculty to continually develop their storytelling style.

And I knew I found the place for me. It’s been quite the adventure, and I can happily say that I’m leaving Columbia College Chicago with everything I wanted and even things I didn’t know I wanted when I set off on this journey.

So, thank you for that, and thank you for helping me find my voice to tell the stories that really matter.

Earning my MA in Journalism: Before and After

We did it! In just one year and four months, each person in my cohort earned an MA in Journalism degree. To celebrate, let’s look back a little. Here’s my …

Journalism MA Stephanie Ewing, stephanie.ewing@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Graduate Experience