Caption writers take courses in a variety of different journalism and mass communications courses to practice and hone their craft. Courses at major state universities are typically offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. At smaller universities or community colleges, undergraduate classes prepare students for jobs immediately after graduation. Typically, students will specialize in a particular type of media, genre of reporting, or style before graduation.
This is an outline of some common concepts you will need to master in your journalism courses:
- Investigation skills
- Strong proficiency in research
- Photography editing
- Ethical reporting
- Creative thinking
- Accuracy and integrity
Most programs require students to gain practical experience while still in school to make connections with potential employers and to further reinforce their core skills. Upon graduation, journalist students focusing on caption writing should expect that their careers will change and evolve as the needs and technologies of journalism shift.
List of Courses
A course in journalism provides caption writers with a basic background in news writing. Media outlets studied include magazines, newspapers and television. Basic reporting, writing and judgment of news stories are also covered. Additional topics include the influence of the media over readers, the ethical use of that power and Internet-based reporting.
A course in visual communication focuses on the relationship between images and the messages they express. This course is ideal for aspiring caption writers because it provides an understanding of how the images they caption may or may not convey their intended meaning. Students will have studio time to familiarize themselves with graphic and Web design fundamentals.
Photojournalism courses teach caption writers how to combine the journalistic power of photos and words. Students study layouts, contrast and subjects for news photography. Sports, action, news and documentary photos will be discussed and analyzed as students begin to learn what makes an outstanding news photograph.
Students learn how to work with the same photo enhancing and editing software used by journalism professionals. They also practice taking journalistic photos with digital photography equipment. The basic elements of photography, including how to pre-visualize images, are also covered.
While caption writing courses are very rare, they may be available through a community writing group. Captions should contain the essential five 'w's of journalism: who, what, where, why, and when. Students learn that photos capture a moment in time and therefore should reflect that quick moment with as much description and clarity as possible.
Diversity in Media
In this course, students study the difference between under and over exposing different races and sexes in journalism and the general media. Through research of past photographs and articles, students learn how race, gender and sexual orientation have been used to present positive and negative messages throughout history.