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COLUMN: I changed my major and you won't change my mind

At times, I’ve spent more than 10 hours in the Central Michigan Life newsroom. 

This summer, I would have been paid hundreds of dollars for my time. Now, I make $10 an article.

An article could require interviews, attending hours of events, editing my pieces three times each, and once more before publishing in print.

That being said, I make less than $30 a week when I used to make $500 for doing similar, if not easier, tasks.

I’ve never been happier.

My major was integrative public relations last year. I changed my major to journalism after spending a summer in corporate America. 

A leader within the corporation I interned for told me that listening is the most important tool in communication. I agreed. He also told me that corporate blogging would be a perfect career choice for my interests, and continued to explain that traditional journalism wasn’t lucrative. I disagreed.

I returned to college this fall with a passion for news and a distaste for my old major, partially due to that statement.

Yes, I lost hundreds of dollars in pay a week. 

I’ve been body-checked by a fraternity member while covering a Greek event. University leadership has tried to conceal information from me during interviews, making my job even more difficult. 

This past semester, a president of a registered student organization tried to get me fired after I wrote a story he didn’t agree with. 

Yet I’m still here — with my $30 paychecks, feeling incredibly satisfied with myself. 

The newsroom has accepted me at my best and my worst. I spend my days with fellow journalists who share the same passion for storytelling, art and writing as I do. 

I frequently watch President Trump tweet about how journalists are the “enemy of the people.” 

Well, here I am, a 19-year-old girl who stands at about 5’2”, eating her fruit snacks while typing up event coverage that I was paid $10 for. 

Am I really the enemy of the people? Or just someone who is committed to reporting the truth?

I’ve been called “fake news” before. Friends often ask why I decided to enter a “dying profession.” Family members are often disappointed when I tell them about my interests, questioning why I didn’t major in marketing or general business instead.

This created enormous anxiety about my major change, and caused me to question the one thing that makes me the happiest. If journalism is such a bad choice, why does it feel so good to report the news?

Outsiders only see the dollar signs, not the impact journalists are able to create through their craft.

So here I am, working through roadblocks that sources create, while dealing with the stigma my major carries. While making about less than minimum wage, I’m on my journey to learn how to be the best reporter possible.

My happiness is not a $500 paycheck. My joy is not admiration from family members, an easy day at work or having people envy my job title.

Sitting in an office all summer was torture compared to the battles I face on an every day basis. Hunting down stories, interviewing sources and telling their side of the truth are what keep me focused and eager to do my job.

When I practice journalism, loving my life becomes easier. I open my eyes every morning knowing that each day will be drastically different than the last. 

My heart still flutters before interviews. Talks with my editor keep me motivated and on the hunt for news. I still get excited when I see my name, printed on fragile paper, next to a piece I’m proud of.

The same enthusiasm does not exist with an office job, where I struggle to stay awake during most of my shift.

Sure, reporting is not the most comfortable job in the world, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

This isn’t my way of slamming business, marketing or public relations majors. In fact, I respect your choice just as much as I hope your respect mine.

All I ask is that others respect my $30 budget, my habit of asking too many questions and the major I refuse to change.