Skip to Content

Sohrab Ahmari, Matthew Peterson (’01)
Offer Advice at Journalism Career Talk

Posted: March 26, 2019

As part of its ongoing series of career-discernment talks, Thomas Aquinas College’s Office of Career Services recently hosted a panel on journalism featuring two notable professionals: Mr. Sohrab Ahmari, author of From Fire by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith and a contributing editor of the Catholic Herald, and Dr. Matthew Peterson (’01), vice president of education at the Claremont Institute and editor of The American Mind.

From the start, the two panelists were agreed on a key point, stated succinctly by Mr. Ahmari: “Don’t go to journalism school!” The craft of journalism, they argued, is best learned through experience, not in the classroom. “The better thing to do, if you’re interested in journalism, is to start to practice it even while you’re an undergraduate,” said Mr. Ahmari, who was on campus to give an address the following day. “The best way to get into journalism is through gumshoe reporting. Where you are, wherever you are, there is a story.”

Alternatively, the panelists recommended studies or work in another field, such as law or natural science, by which aspiring reporters or commentators can develop an area of expertise to inform their journalistic endeavors. “You already have one advantage, which is you’re getting a great classical education,” said Mr. Ahmari. “So you have, at least intellectually, a sense of a picture of human nature — that is itself something I think a lot of your peers who have just come out of school don’t have. And that’s helpful — observing the world, when you have a sense of what human nature is like at its best, and also at its worst — that’s something that you know.”

A graduate of the College, Dr. Peterson echoed Mr. Ahmari’s assessment of the value of a liberal education in journalism — or any other field. “It is a priceless gift, and you should count yourself extremely lucky, extremely blessed, just to have that opportunity,” he said. “It is incredibly rare, what you’re able to do, and it will assist you throughout the rest of your life. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. I’ve seen it in countless ways, countless people, graduates across the country doing amazing things, and they will all testify to this.”

Yet Dr. Peterson warned the students not to rest on their laurels. “You have an incredible education that’s raw, and it’s pure in its way, and what you need to do is have the motivation and the courage to acknowledge that, and then go out and be excellent in a specific area,” he said. “No one is going to hand you on a platter your career or what you do next. That is on you, and you have to be proactive about it — during the summers, and looking forward — you have to take control of your life in that way and move forward with the gift you have received.”