Report From the Field: Study Abroad as a Journalism Major

Gaining a global perspective in pursuit of stories that matter

Cat Richardson
A group of journalism majors learning how to film a documentary

News travels the world, so why shouldn’t Journalism majors? At NYU, students interested in journalism take a unique approach. To start, every Journalism major completes a second major, which often ties into their aspirations. A future science writer might add a major in Biology, or a budding documentarian might double-major in Cinema Studies. Then, students have the opportunity to incorporate a global component. Often, they can bring their majors together when they choose to study abroad at one of NYU’s global locations on six continents. Here’s how NYU Journalism majors work the global network.

Imani Johnson, a journalism major, at her internship at a radio station in Accra, Ghana.

On Air and on the Street

NYU Accra has bountiful opportunities for journalism majors. They can enroll in a six-week summer intensive program called Reporting Africa. Or, they can opt for courses offered during the semester like Documenting the African City or Journalism and Society. Either way, students can learn how to do their own reporting, create documentary films, and get an in-depth look at how media functions in this West African hub. For Imani Johnson, a Journalism and Africana Studies double major, interning at a local radio station enhanced her journalism courses. “I put together a show and even had on-air conversations with the host and with artists,” she says. “I also learned so much about Ghanaian culture and the workplace, which was invaluable.” For Imani, studying abroad was an easy choice. “Being a journalist means getting out of your comfort zone and learning how to connect with people outside of what you’re used to.”

Speaking the Language

A student framed in the viewfinder of a video camera

For journalism students who want to work internationally, knowing another language can be a crucial part of the job. Laura Casado, a Journalism and Romance Languages double major, spent a semester at NYU Madrid and one at NYU Paris immersing herself in Spanish and French. “In Spain I took Madrid Stories. This documentary film course emphasizes incorporating yourself into the daily life of the city,” Laura says. “You get into situations where you have to speak Spanish and get to know people. It forces you to put away any shyness and challenge yourself as a reporter,” she adds. Laura and her classmates spent the semester creating documentaries. Their subjects were everything from immigration and social justice to doll hospitals and paella makers.

Cityscape of Paris featuring buildings and Eiffel Tower in the background.

At NYU Paris, Laura focused on language acquisition. She knew that fluency in three languages would make her employable as a reporter all over the world. But what she learned about France tied into her journalistic interests. “It’s good to be aware of different cultures and as informed as you can be when you’re interested in international reporting,” says Laura. Additionally, she adds that studying the contrasts between how French and American media outlets report on issues is illuminating. Most importantly, she says, “As a journalist and a human, it’s so important to go and immerse yourself in another culture and learn from it.”