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Preserving Freedom is the Journalist's Greatest Reward

The truth makes freedom possible.

That's the answer I give to high school and college students who ask what rewards they can expect if they choose journalism as a career.

I also tell them that the rewarding aspects of working as a journalist include:

  • the thrill of meeting people and the enjoyment of writing about them and the events they are responsible for.
  • the knowledge that your work (the writing, editing and photography) affects the lives of thousands of people every day.
  • the prospect of making a name for yourself in your community and beyond.

Other reasons for choosing a journalism career are told in the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund's career guide. Here's a sample of what that book, The Journalist's Road to Success, says:

"Today's young journalists have a mission that goes beyond making a name for themselves or making a lot of money. The good ones will achieve both fame and fortune, but they will make it to that level because they have a more important career goal. Their goal is to ask good in-depth questions and to write and edit honest and fair articles for newspapers, including school newspapers. That dream is made possible by resisting all attempts by elected and appointed officials and others to restrict the free flow of information to readers -- to the community, the nation and the world."

A more serious answer to the question of what rewards are in store for the young journalist would be that the work of news people is vital to keeping our nation and our society free.

That has become crystal clear since the tragic events in New York City, Western Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia on September 11, 2001.

The free flow of information is the main element that separates our nation from many other societies on this planet.

The sad thing is that so many Americans don't appreciate this aspect of our freedom ... The First Freedom ... and will never fully appreciate it until they travel to other parts of the world to witness how others struggle to live in the absence or near-absence of the truth.

The absence and distortion of the trust is what drives some to commit acts of terrorism.

The supreme job of the journalist is to deliver the truth.

Is there any higher calling as a career?

This article was written in April 2002 by Tom Engleman, program director of the New Jersey Press Foundation.

NOTE: Information about newspaper careers, how to choose a newspaper for an internship or job, and the future of newspapers is available elsewhere in this web site.

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