Journalism students say they prefer the glitter to the hard news

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EL PASO – As journalism students graduate from colleges into a tough job market every year, more and more of them are straying from hard news and are instead pursuing careers covering sports and entertainment.

According to Dr. Thomas Ruggiero an associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso campus, “…reporting on breaking hard news has become lost.”

A scenario for the new bred of entertainment reporters could look like this: Microphones in hand and cameras on record, numerous reporters anxiously wait behind velvet ropes for the first celebrity to step on to the red carpet.

The first interview of the night dressed in a long, tight-fitting gown and sparkling stilettos, poses for the flashing cameras, then makes her way toward the screaming requests as they point their microphones in her direction. They yell over each other’s voices to get the first interview after the star’s stint in rehab.

Multimedia journalism major, Beatriz Castañeda, reviews digital photographs to include in a story. (Georgia Rodriguez/Borderzine.com)

Multimedia journalism major, Beatriz Castañeda, reviews digital photographs to include in a story. (Georgia Rodriguez/Borderzine.com)

One reporter with a single letter logo on his microphone lands the interview and immediately riddles the troubled movie star with question after question.

At one point insulting the actress with his comments about her personal life, he causes her to lash out at him, risking his integrity with this particular celebrity but at the same time increasing the appeal of entertainment journalism for graduating journalism majors around America.

In Ruggiero’s class of more than 30 journalism students, his theory  is evident. When asked what field of journalism they would like to work in after they graduate, the majority of the class quickly answered, either sports or entertainment.

It is no surprise that this generation of college students were brought up in a society invested in technology, while infatuated with all different kinds of entertainment, from movie stars to famous athletes.

With the amount of reality shows popping up in all different genres of television, the reason for the interest in entertainment and sports journalism could be that going in this particular direction may possibly result in a celebrity status profile.

“Working in entertainment news, in a way you become part of the entertainment lifestyle,” says Jennifer Estrada, a multimedia journalism major at UTEP.

Every subject from celebrities to music to football games, entertainment journalism is catching the interest of more and more students. “Covering concerts and reporting on them is my ideal job,” says Omar Perez, another multimedia journalism major. “Hard news is important but it is not something that interests me.”

Daniel Ornelas, now pursuing a career in sports journalism, said his previous interest in coaching made his interest in sports journalism a natural transition. “Hard news is more of a challenge for me because I would rather stay in connection with sports,” Ornelas said.

Some say that students’ lack of interest in covering hard news reflects a flaw somewhere in the educational system. These critics say they believe the professors are not stressing how much more important hard news is than the number of championship rings Kobe Bryant has sitting on a mantle in his mansion.

However, according to Ruggiero, “Most journalism professors that I know were trained as traditional journalists and continue to teach the necessity of hard news to their students.”

Estrada said that, “professors are not at fault. We just find entertainment and sports more interesting and relevant to our lives.”

With the students and professors in agreement about the education system not being at fault, whether or not this trend continues in the future of journalism will determine if the interest is just a phase that will soon pass.

Could an overdose of technology on graduating Journalism majors be the reason for the overwhelming interests in entertainment and sports reporting or is there really a missing link in the techniques professors are using to guide these students through their obsession with “fun” and “hobby like” topics?

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