Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

155th Ask Josh – In Defense of Comms Majors

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2010 at 8:22 am

Dear Josh,

Congratulations on graeduting. I have a question if you had to do it over again would you still gone with your same major that you have now?


Dear ____,

Hello. I assume you are referring to my getting a Bachelors of Arts in Communications, emphasizing in Broadcast Journalism. I appreciate your question, it’s one I would like to have an answer to myself.

Prior to entering college I was just naive enough to believe (or maybe I really was correct. Time will tell.) that it didn’t matter what major you received in college so long as you went to the right university. Since I was told that Brigham Young University was the best university in the world, I had little reason to doubt that anything I decided to study would land me any kind of dream job in any field. Since I had already spent three years as a journalist in my childhood hometown, it seemed only natural for me to continue studying it.

I found out later that communications majors are rather low on the pecking order as far as academic respect goes. According to CollegeCrunch, a degree in communications ranks #6 in the list of 10 Most Expensive But Useless Degrees in America, coming in just behind Latin and just ahead of Art History.

Another article placed communications at #6 as one of The 10 Most Worthless College Majors. This time it was sandwiched between Music Therapy and Dance.

As if the current reputation wasn’t bad enough, the demand for journalists continues to decline. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, my profession is expected to “decline moderately” through the year 2018. Of the 61,600 reporters working in 2008, we can expect 4,700 of them to be unemployed in the next 8 years.

I found it particularly disconcerting when CollegeHumor published a book with a passed-out drunk on the cover. On his body the idea of majoring in communications was listed in league with selling kidneys for beer money and sleeping with one’s professors.

Exhibit A:

The notion that communications was a remedial line of study was reinforced when I asked some of my classmates about their motives for studying journalism. Answers included, “I couldn’t get into the film major”, “I couldn’t get into the business program”, “I couldn’t get into the MDT [Music, Dance, Theater] major”, and (my personal favorite), “I can’t do math.”

So basically I’m in the J.V. version of other people’s aspirations. They may well title my major: “Broadcast Journalism: For those who can’t write, film, or act but still want to.” Writing for those who can’t write. Film for those who can’t film. Acting for those who can’t act.


There were also plenty of jokes floating around like, “I majored in journalism, now I have a paper route” and “I majored in communications and now I’m qualified to return home to live with my parents.”

My reactions from my parents regarding my interest in studying journalism were always supportive. Nevertheless, I somehow always detected a hint of reticence in their encouragement that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I was just a semester or two away from graduating. It finally occurred to me that dear old dad was not just musing every time he said how glad he was that he majored in Finance. And mother may have been hinting more than I suspected when she mentioned the word Engineer oftentimes after I finished playing with my Legos or my little electronics kits that dad bought for me to tinker with. And I really cannot count the number of times dad told me to look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook. And now that I finally have, I see that I heeded his counsel too little too late.

Despite all this evidence that calls the wisdom of communication into question, I find encouragement at the success of some of my academic colleagues. They include these celebrities:

  • George Clooney – majored in broadcasting at Northern Kentucky University and the University of Cincinnati
  • Brad Pitt – studied journalism from the University of Missouri.
  • Oprah Winfrey – focused on communications while at Tennessee State
  • David Letterman – studied broadcasting at Ball State, and he was a weatherman, too.
  • Matt Lauer – the guy whose job I wanted in the first place anyway.

And I love reading the works of other journalists:

  • Dave Barry – every little thing he does is magic. His column while working at the Miami Herald is hilarious. Although one of his books on tape, which shall go unnamed, was a bit of a major disappointment.
  • Malcolm Gladwell – columnist for the New Yorker. Author of Blink, What the Dog Saw, Outliers, and The Tipping Point
  • Stephen J Dubner – co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics

But more encouraging than those, I take inspiration from other successful comms majors/journalists in the Church:

  • Gordon B. Hinckley – President of the Church – studied English in hopes of pursuing a career in journalism. Aspired to study journalism at Columbia for graduate school. Carried newspapers for the Deseret News.
  • Thomas S. Monson – President of the Church – general manager of the Deseret News Press, though not a journalism major, I still like how we’re in related fields.
  • David A. Bednar – Quorum of the Twelve Apostles – studied communications as his undergraduate degree.
  • Vernon Heperi – Dean of Students at BYU. Majored in communications.

And you know who else are journalists? Superman and Spiderman. On the other hand, maybe they choose to be journalists because they know that nobody will ever suspect them of being very good at anything, let alone saving the world. But I doubt it.

I have heard plenty of examples of people who studied journalism and are now jobless, living with their parents, working on their music, or otherwise failing in some aspect of their life, usually careers and family. I have decided that these people are not idiots for studying journalism, merely failures who happened to study journalism. If I fail, it will not be because I studied communications, it will be because I simply was an idiot.

So, would I change my major if I had to do it over again? No way. I can’t think of another major that would have allowed me the time and freedom to work 20 hours a week, take 20 credit hours, do an internship, volunteer on and off campus, preside over clubs, serve in the Church, go to dances, games, and concerts, and still pull off mostly A’s without hardly ever having to study on my weekends. Plus, I got to to tell jokes on television. I got to play with cameras and shoot movies and tell stories. I learned to work with computers. I interviewed local celebrities. I love my major!




154th Ask Josh – Music video collection

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Dear JOsh,

Everybody is making blogposts with thier favorite musiv cideos. Will you make on?


Oh dear you,

We have got to work on your… oh never mind. Here you go, my eclectic cavalcade of music videos:

First, the modern day virtuosos of DragonForce. Even if you don’t enjoy their style of music, you have to appreciate the speed at which they manage to rock out:

I don’t know if this will work, embedding was disabled. So I tried to put in the embed html code manually. If it doesn’t come up, you can find the song “Morning Ride” by Lee Greenwood. I think it’s a nice song. Susan thinks it’s about making morning whoopie.

After reading that last comment, Susan just said, “It IS!”

Next, Edith Piaf. I don’t know what she’s singing about. Once, while on a date, a girl who spoke French was offended as she listened to the words. She refused to translate:

I like hearing Elvis singing in two languages. Long live the king.

And now, for a big-hair rock ballad.



P.S. BONUS I think Journey’s song “Faithfully” takes on genuine meaning when you’re watching the video. Count the number of slow-moving sweaty-heads.

BONUS: Liam Lynch everybody.

Learn this dance and try to not be happy

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2010 at 11:36 am