I really enjoyed this video for a more reasons than I plan to share at the moment. I’ll actually be working on a project in my spare time fore the rest of the semester that has something to do with this.
Part of my last post made me remember this video for a lot reasons.
I think my generation can be pretty arrogant at times. I was hanging out over the break with some friends who also study journalism at another school. They complained of professors who made them turn in new writing three times a week. They also moaned about constantly having to be in writing mode. This sorta blew my mind but I couldn’t judge to much. In fact during this part of the conversation I stayed silent because I felt I had nothing to contribute. It wasn’t until one friend said “I don’t know why I have to waste my talents on these baby articles all the time”. Before anyone else could speak I laughed and inquired “Who died and made you Ernest Hemingway?” (The friend didn’t know that Hemingway was actually a journalist at one time)
I think it is perhaps the greatest travesty in my generation that we think we are the corner market of our fields at 21 years old. While I do agree that youth brings innovation, I have to maintain that in order to fix or improve upon something you need to understand what it really is (I understand the implications of subjective truth please breathe). I feel like before you can call yourself a real deal journalist you have to do some pretty crappy legwork. Why? Because you get a grand appreciation for things. It also helps you understand how things really are.
For a person who isn’t a journalist, they can maintain that it’s a job so easy a monkey could do it. I would like to see a monkey capture the scene of a devastating crime or a joyous event. I would like to see that monkey record in brevity the human experience at it’s finest and worst moments. The truth of the matter is despite the closing down of many print newspapers, journalism will always be relevant. People need to hear what’s going on. Information is power, it is also a comfort and a provoker. What journalist do is just as serious a trade as anything else. With that being said you don’t just wake up one morning and say “Hey, I’m a journalist!” No, you go to school and you PRACTICE writing. Our trades are not hoobies that we can click on a few websites and become experts at. The skill of interviewing does not come from reading a book. The more I interview people the better at it I become. It’s the same with my writing, at least that’s what I hope. Practice makes perfect, but in order to get anywhere close to that you actually do have to practice.
For the past month I’ve been working on a pretty good feature. It involved getting out of my comfort zone and interviewing people and it also involved some time to just sit and write out stuff even when I was sceptical the results. It was certainly a learning experience. The whole time I would write my hands would shake. “What if i’m doing this wrong?” “Was the the right question to ask?” these kinds of thoughts danced through my head throughout the process.
It finally came time to write it and I was pretty confident. As I turned it into my professor he tells me that I’ll actually be submitting it to be pretty cool publication and that it might get published. I wanted to believe him I really did. But let’s be honest here. I felt my work wasn’t of the same calibre to be printed alongside all those hard working journalists.
So while talking to friends about my feelings on the matter one turned to me and said “Where do you think they started?” While this is of course something I knew it wasn’t something i remembered during my week of worry. Theodore Roosevelt said it best “Comparison is the thief of joy” I’m forever comparing myself to other writers. I think I might need to stop spending so much time thinking about who i’m not as a journalist and just start being who I am.
Oh, so I spent all of my spring break looking to see if I was published and was saddened to see I wasn’t. When I stopped by my Professor’s office today he asked me about the email that just came….the one that said I was in fact getting published in this week’s edition! I have to check on one more fact. But in a few days I hope to share with you some very legit work!
I’m pretty sure every journalism student has had this moment. The moment when you just feel so passionate about a cause that you want to shout from the rooftops of an injustice that has been done. You feel heat coursing through your veins as more information comes your way and people share their sides of the tale. You want to put your foot down to write something so grand that people stop and realize what is going on and they do something about it. Then reality comes like a cold front on the one day you’re brave enough to wear shorts. You learn that people are usually hesitant to act especially when it means defiance of something that has become a norm. This can be as little as the school bully who gets everyone’s money or the Nazis reign over most of Europe. It matters not where your cause places on the scale of injustice you just want something done about it. But with no brave voices, citizens, and leaders your cause just sort of dies. While you and every person must survive this disappointment you don’t know where to go from here.
As journalists we’re not supposed to take a side. We as people have sides that come from many factors, but that shouldn’t affect our work. We’re compartmentalizers who must share this human experience but not add our slant to it. While that’s about as idealistic as my point of this post just bear with me. Our job isn’t to be the white knights in shining armor; our job is to share what’s going on. Then what? Just pray that some brave person gets that heat coursing through their veins?
My freshman year, before I even step foot in a journalism class I learned about one of those causes. There is a lot of injustice in the community that I attend school in. Its perpetrators use poverty as a means to an end. There are many faces to this story but there is one that leads them all (isn’t there always?). I remembered the first time I laid sight to this person. As I took in their features I got the feeling that maybe those bad guys you see on TV really do have real life counter parts. As I continued to learn more through various people the picture being painted didn’t show much hope. There were at one time many white knights. One of them even ran a newspaper. That newspaper sadly closed by the end of my freshman year. That left only one newspaper in town that was very passive in their mentions of injustice.
Two years later, some things are changing. Some of those bad guys are getting called out, one voted out of office, others just getting a little hot under the collar. There is still the one person in charge. They continue to do as they please. I saw them just the other day. Still as arrogant as ever. They walked among the students at my school and while I wasn’t the only student who knew this person and their sins against the community, I was one of a very few. I felt ashamed because I felt that heat again. I just wanted to use my words, to inform the students who that person was that needed a police escort to the front row of a town hall meeting that they were interrupting to stir up trouble. My shame tripled as I looked around for those journalists who had been present just the year before and couldn’t find them. These days it seems like all there is to do about the problem is talk. People talk in low voices or behind closed doors. While I feel the answer doesn’t not lie in open insults and accusations. I do feel the answer lies in telling some stories. Looking at both sides of the issue and allowing people in the community to have a discussion (I warned you I was an idealist). The problem is my proposed solution is fear. Actually the problem is much more than fear, I think racism is the biggest problem of all. Don’t get me wrong. This hasn’t crippled this community. There is a lot of good done here. There are people who take the circumstances they are given and they make the most of it. They are far wiser than I, some days I just want to ask them what their secret is.
Which leads me to my question. As journalists we’re to be spotlights and not superheroes, we aren’t soapboxes (arguably). So what does a young journalist do? Swallow it like nasty pill? These days I’ve taken a spot on the fence and just watched, I’ve mostly succeeded in keeping my opinions to myself. But then there are younger students who are feeling that heat, it’s coursing through their veins. Part of me wants to encourage them; the other part wants to throw some cold water on them. Instead I stay silent. I warn them about slanting, tell them to research, and pray they give up.