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deity307 06-03-2008 03:40 PM

Degree or diploma in journalism?
My goal is to become a video game journalist for a large company like Ziff Davis. I'm 19 (about to turn 20 in a couple of months). I read a few articles about VG journalists and what education you should have. Although most of them said education is not ESSENTIAL, a degree in journalism would help. That's the part I'm worrying about. Right now I can't go to university because I'm missing 1 university credit from high school, so I'd have to wait a year to get that missing credit and apply for 2009 journalism classes. HOWEVER, I could take a college journalism course (3 years long) and get an advanced diploma. What I'm wondering is how much a diploma will be enough, and if it's the same as a degree.

So should I stop waiting and take this college program and get an advanced diploma, or bite the bullet and take the university program and get a degree?

Beth A. Dillon 06-03-2008 05:27 PM

Education won't matter as much as your skills to communicate and getting a start somewhere. Now, case in point, Frank Cifaldi, who started Lost Levels and one day ended up as Features Editor for and is now Editorial Manager at GameTap. Why? Because he's cool and writes well.

You can get a degree in English or Communications as well. Going strictly Journalism doesn't add a whole lot in the game world, but do keep in mind that you'll want to know journalism protocol at the outset.

- Beth

deity307 06-04-2008 09:17 AM

Okay in that case, I will go for the college journalism advanced diploma. Like you said, I'm sure that education isn't AS important as your ability to write and entertain. Thanks for your help.

Clov3r 06-06-2008 08:22 AM

Yeah, I too am somewhat in the same boat. I spent the last 2 years attending various art schools thinking that was what I wanted to do, but after a year and a half of writing for the video game industry I've found that it's what I love to do.

Aside from being forum and site admins, I've gone to events (with given press passes which I had to acquire though credentials), written opinionated stories, simple 1-2-3 Guidelines and News articles. I'm great at my writing and I have the experience. Would companies see this and hire me with a smaller job title first giving me leverage to work my way up the corporate ladder in the industry? Or should I think about going back to school, like community college, and get a degree in creative writing or journalism?

myfourtwofour 06-23-2008 04:57 AM

Im interested also in a career in journalism and while education or specific journalism study is not 100% essential, i guess it is such a competative sector than if you have the specific qualification then it puts you right up top.

deity307 07-02-2008 12:12 PM

So I've asked around, you guys say college journalism is fine. But I went to Game and they said university is essential. I'm lost. :(

MessiahSimple 07-02-2008 02:17 PM

Your best bet would be to relentlessly try to make some form of personal contact with someone that works where you want to with ziff davis - they all have interns, and the great thing about bigshots in video games (from my experience with the likes of R. Pitchford) is that they're super-laid back...they don't mind talking to the little guy. They will undoubtedly be able to give you the best advice on what you need if you're persistent enough to get past HR :) Don't be afraid to call, write, do anything and everything to get in separates the interns from the fanboys, so to speak.

jillduffy 07-02-2008 05:51 PM

I have eight years writing and editing experience, and my degree is a BA in English Literature.

I highly recommend getting your BA.

If you study English literature, you will learn how to think as well as write. Then you'll need to spend some of your own time and hard work mastering different writing styles. But it's worth it.

deity307 07-03-2008 04:01 PM

A BA could help a lot if I wanted to write a storyline for a video game. However, isn't an English BA overkill? There's a lot of video game journalists out there without an education.

64chamber 08-19-2008 10:15 AM

Case in point
Well, unfortunately when I was in school, I tended to think way too much about what major I'm in and where it would lead me. Though the truth is it really doesn't matter. Just make sure you stay above a 3.0 and really spend some time on your essays because getting into the industry requires some strong writing samples.

As for your writing samples, here's what the interviewer at Ziff Davis said to me: "Good writing is like ****, you know it when you see it."

And I am by no means a good writer, I just felt like interviewing because of my interest in game journalism.

But I suppose to best suit your needs, take a look at some job postings and see what some big publishers want.

Here is a posting for Gamespot preview writer via CNET Careers.

Job ID: 0107100408006
Assistant Editor I, Console Previews

The assistant editor will be responsible for contributing directly and regularly to GameSpot's editorial previews of upcoming game products by writing preview stories, playing games for previews, attending preview-related events, meeting with industry partners such as representatives from game developers/publishers/public relations, and contributing to preview-related interviews.

The assistant editor will also be expected to contribute to the GameSpot editorial product in other ways, such as writing product reviews, contributing to written feature stories, or appearing on-camera for video features or preview-related interviews. The ideal candidate will be ready to tackle a hefty and steady stream of previews, preview-related visits, and preview-related events each week. The candidate should ideally be available to work 5 full days a week. The associate editor should have a great deal of experience with, and a strong working knowledge of, modern games on all console platforms, including the Xbox 360, the PS3, the Nintendo Wii, the PS2, the Nintendo DS, and the Sony PSP, and should be able to write knowledgeably and clearly about games on all platforms.

The assistant editor should possess strong writing skills and should ideally have two years' writing experience, preferably in the area of writing about games in a professional setting, and should be finishing or have finished a university bachelor's degree. The candidate should be enthusiastic, have a strong work ethic, excellent time management skills to juggle multiple projects and never miss deadlines, have good people skills and experience working in a collaborative setting, and above all else, should possess a strong willingness to learn new things.


The assistant previews editor will be responsible for 3-5 regular game product preview assignments per week in a timely manner.

The assistant previews editor will be on call to attend events that may be local or require travel.

The assistant previews editor will be expected to contribute to additional duties, such as writing occasional product reviews, appearing in video features, or contributing to feature stories.


Have completed or are completing a BA/BS university degree or equivalent 4 years' worth of higher education, preferably in English, Journalism, or other writing-related field. Formal writing training a plus.

Preferred: two years previous writing experience on game product reviews. Writing samples encouraged.

Preferred: one year previous experience working for a world-class gaming editorial organization.

Must be highly organized, detail-oriented, and able to work with multiple teams at once, as well as able to juggle multiple projects at once

Effective scheduling and time management skills a must; prior experience in project management strongly preferred

Strong personal rapport and communication skills.

Of course these arn't set in stone requirements, but make sure to build proper experience so you can wow them in each of the qualities they're looking for.

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