In college, there seems to be this unspoken (and sometimes spoken) ranking of majors based on perceived importance. In our society that is learning to value science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), majors related to these careers are valued far above most other majors. Pre-professional majors such as education, law and business are considered to be valuable because they allow students to be prepared for a practical career beyond college. Other majors, especially those in the humanities (English, history, etc.) are often ranked at the bottom of the totem pole since they are more abstract majors and do not always directly translate into obvious career paths. All of these majors seem to hold some level of respect from many people though, and then there is communications. Communications majors (no matter their specific concentration) seem to constantly be bombarded by comments about the uselessness of their major and how easy it must be. Beyond the fact that attacking any major is uncalled for, most communications programs are pre-professional programs as they are training their students to be journalists, graphic designers or public relations representatives.
As someone majoring in communications who plans on pursuing journalism as a career, I feel these insults are an extreme affront to the work I—and every journalist who has come before me or works beside me—has contributed to make media what it is today. In addition to journalists, there have been people in all branches of communications that have changed the way we see and interact with the world.
Journalism is a dangerous job.
Every year, dozens of journalists are killed in situations directly related to what they are covering. In 2015, there were 72 journalists killed, and that's just the number of deaths currently confirmed to have motives directly related to journalism. The deaths of journalists are a far too common occurrence, in fact it's so common that the Newseum, a museum that documents news history, commemorates thousands of journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty. While not commonly ranked as one of the top 10 deadliest positions in America, journalists are killed often, all around the world.
Communications majors have a hand in almost everything.
Any product that has even a touch of design in it was more than likely created, in part, by a communications major. Your phone, your car, your clothes, pretty much anything you own was either designed, created, or marketed by someone who was a communications major. Even if they weren't a communications major, they used the exact skill communications majors focus on most closely to make your life easier and influence how you interact with the world around you every day.
Being a communications major is extremely time consuming.
If there is one thing I hear above all else, it is that communications as a major is just too easy to be respectable. While I truly believe that there are plenty of people out there who truly don't have the skill set to do what I or other communications majors do, I don't believe the major is especially hard. It is time consuming and stressful though. To be a communications major this day and age means being involved in student media or other communications related organizations. Student media is something that often goes highly unnoticed but also takes dozens of hours every week to make productive and respectable. For example, if you are an editor for your school newspaper, you must assign that week's stories and make sure all the stories are covered. The stories that aren't covered—sometimes this can be several—you have to write yourself. Writing an article includes scheduling and conducting interviews on top of simply writing the article. An editor then has to make sure all stories are edited and ready to be put in a layout. The editor must design this layout, make sure everything fits and looks beautiful and be ready to print before deadline. Usually this all takes place in a span of a week, sometimes less.
Communications majors control the way you get information.
Media of all sorts, whether that be print, digital or social media, is largely controlled by communications professionals. Almost all information you acquire throughout your life comes from some sort of news or other media source. While not every single person who controls some aspect of media is a communications major, many are. Even though you may not always agree with what the media portrays—I'll let you in on a secret, most communications majors don't either—if you want any information about the world, you're going to have to go through some sort of communications major.