SPJ Region 3 intern leaves message for students who are passionate about journalism, it isn’t always easy

Rainforest photo
During his study abroad, Isaiah Singleton visited the rain forest of Panama. Supplied photo

By Isaiah Singleton, SPJ Region 3 Intern, SPJ Student Member and senior at Savannah State University

“I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.” – The Fresh Quotes

College + student journalism might be stressful

As a student, imagine receiving an assignment on Friday morning that required you to write a five to seven-page paper due by Friday at 11:59 p.m. and an article about your university constructing a new science and technology building or an in-depth investigative piece about a fraternity/sorority hazing incident due the following morning at 8:00 a.m.

Panama students
Isaiah Singleton, far back row by himself, participated in a Savannah State University student aboard program in 2018. Supplied photo

Trust me, I know how that feels and I am sure you as college students do as well. Thinking about how much work is put toward school and then exerting extra energy to write journalism articles and meet strict deadlines from your school’s newspaper is scary. However, as a journalist, this is our job to be able to maintain this balance. 

Whether we are in a college or a university, we are already stressed because we are college students. We are pulling our hair out and feeling extremely overwhelmed with various assignments such as papers, analyses, and the cumbersome group projects. On top of that, when you are a student who decided that your passion is mass media, journalism and communications, college can get a bit more complex.

Journalism has always been a part of me. I loved to write as a child. A few years ago, you could not have convince me that the field of journalism would be where I am currently studying and working and want as a career for the rest of my life. At times working in the journalism field is fulfilling yet exhausting but also imagine working as a student journalist as well.

How I decided to study journalism & communications

Remember taking your first step in college thinking you were majoring in one thing, but somewhere down the road, something in your gut whispers to you and says, “Hey, what are you doing? This is your future. Make it worthwhile.”

I enrolled at Savannah State University majoring in international business with a minor in business management. I spent an entire year (two semesters) pursuing a major where I did not necessarily feel comfortable studying.

Changing your majorDue to heavy influences, I chose business as a major because I was persuaded that journalism may not  be a great career move, meaning that the income did not look adequate compared to a business major.

The national average salary for a journalist is $45,925 in the United States. While international business, the average annual wage for a management analyst in May 2015 was $91,770, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A year later, I was still unhappy and did not see a future in business as my focus. I was extremely nervous about making the decision to tell my parents that I wanted to change my major, but I knew I had to do what was necessary. With confidence, I marched directly into my academic adviser’s office one morning and requested to change my major.

Making the switch to another major

Marcus Davis SSU
Marius Davis

My academic adviser, at the time, Mr. Marius Davis, looked at me and said, “Are you sure?” Even though I was nervous about my final decision, I had no doubt that my wake-up call was mass communications and journalism.

After the switch was made, it felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I contacted my parents and told them what had been done. Although there was some level of hesitance, they both supported me in the end saying, “As long as you are doing something you love, we are fine with it.”

Jessica Sparks mug
Jessica Sparks

The next fall semester I enrolled in my first set of journalism classes including the class that made me fall in love with journalism even more, “Writing for The Digital Media,” with Professor Jessica Sparks.

Through her class, I made connections with our school’s newspaper, The Tiger’s Roar. I joined this news organization to build connections with faculty, staff and students and was even able to connect with local attorneys and interview them. I have been with the newspaper for the last three years.

At some point during this process, I felt overwhelmed, but at the same time, it felt right. I felt the need to keep pushing myself because I enjoyed the thrill of interviewing and contacting sources to write a news story for our newspaper.

“The duty of journalists is to tell the truth. Journalism means you go back to the facts, you look at the documents, you discover what the record is, and you report it that way.” – Noam Chomsky

“I actually did this”

Susan Catron
Susan Catron

As a student journalist, I was especially nervous about interviewing the executive editor for the Savannah Morning News, Susan Catron, where I had to ask her questions about her job, what she thought about the term, “fake news,” and her personal life. It was my first time interviewing someone who was in a job career that I wanted to be in later in life.

I think my defining moment as a student journalist is when I had to interview the Savannah personal injury law firm, Tate Law Group’s Mark Tate to ask him questions about the rape that occurred on SSU’s campus back in 2013.

Mark Tate Savannah
Mark Tate

For me, this was the scariest, yet a fast-paced experience. I was on a tight deadline with my editors; it was my first time having that much pressure on me, so I was nervous throughout the interview with Mr. Tate. After the article was published, I felt a sense of joy and pride for all my hard work. It was a feeling of “wow, I actually did this.”

What my world looks like as a senior

Currently, I am a senior at SSU. I am the new features editor for The Tiger’s Roar, the President for the Society of Collegiate Journalists (SCJ), a student member of the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ), just recently completing a summer internship with SPJ Region 3’s news site, SizingUpTheSouth.com.

Isaiah groups

If you want to be a student journalist is all about time management. Students want to have a social life, as well as maintain their academics. However, when you are a journalist, you must make sacrifices. My sacrifices were missing my favorite television show, “Scandal” on Thursday nights and not hanging out with my friends on certain days.

Tigers Roar and SSU logoI have learned that it’s natural to feel completely under huge amounts of pressure when you have assignments and articles due around the same time. However, I have learned the hard way that procrastination does not help. You must plan and become diligent to meet what’s required of you.

I love what I am doing for my community in Savannah, but I have also gotten the chance to report on sexuality in a foreign country, the Latino Paradox, entertainment, and as well as Savannah State University’s day-to-day operations. (More of Singleton’s essays to be published on SizingUpTheSouth.com)

“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.” – Henry Anatole Grunwald

Isaiah mug
Isaiah Singleton

Isaiah Singleton is SPJ Region 3’s 2018 summer intern. He is a senior at Savannah State University majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in online/print journalism. Singleton is a feature editor for the University’s student-ran newspaper, The Tiger’s Roar. Raised in Stockbridge, Georgia, writing has always been his passion. During childhood, he wrote numerous fictional stories about his life and what he wanted it to be.  Contact Isaiah Singleton at izzysingleton12@gmail.com

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