In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it seems fitting to reflect on a few journalism-related topics that made me a better journalist.
After seeing a flying machine zooming through the skies above Shawnee, Kan. for months, I wanted to find out the story in April 2010, during my first year as a reporter on my newspaper staff. The answer for months was “no” from the staff who said since we didn’t know the man, we couldn’t write about him. I kept pushing and finally two of my fellow staff members found out the man’s address and knocked on his front door.
I spent hours talking to the man on his front porch and watching him take flight. I found out that a student from my school often flew with the man, making a direct connection to my school. The story still remains one of my favorites.
I will never forget the sounds of the flying machine, the feeling of the winds around me or the excitement coursing through the field while I observed the man take flight. There was something serene and beautiful about the idea of flight that day. I could relate to the man’s desire to see the world from a different perspective. One of my favorite quotes came from the subject of the story. Quoting the movie, “Out of Africa,” Dave McKibben said,
“I want to see what everything looks like from God’s point of view.”
During my senior year as co-editor-in-chief of my school newspaper, one particular story affirmed my passion for journalism and helped me decide to pursue a career in the field.
What originally began as a story about the uncertain outlook of a coach’s job position at my school quickly turned into an investigation of the coaching evaluation system as a whole. I spent upwards of 20 hours on the story and experienced a number of journalism firsts. I paid for my first police report, wrote the longest story I had ever written and dealt with some great criticism as well as great support as a result of the story. Ultimately, my superintendent thanked me for my journalistic courage in writing the story.
After returning from a particularly lengthy interview for the story, my journalism adviser (Who I already mentioned in an earlier post for her incredible support) solidified my career path. She told me that I should seriously think about journalism as a career because I wouldn’t be working so hard for something if I didn’t love it.
She was right. I had never worked so hard on a story before, and I loved every second of it.
Placing my finger on my favorite journalism moment is difficult. I covered topics from local personalities to cyberbullying, and I got to talk to a wide range of interesting people. I have so many fond memories from C101, my high school’s journalism classroom. Additionally, I feel very fortunate to have been recognized for my work with a few notable awards and scholarships. Although all of those moments were great in their own ways, I think I felt the most proud of my work during one particular interview.
I have had one source cry in front of me during an interview. This particular subject had been going through quite a lot and told me they had, in fact, not cried at all about the issue. As a journalist, that moment was one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences I have ever dealt with. A large part of me felt terrible that this person had been through enough to bring them to tears. Every part of my being wanted to comfort the source as much as I could. At the same time, knowing that I was the only one this person trusted with their vulnerabilities, fears and sadness made me feel unspeakably proud of myself. Yes, here I was, making someone reflect on their pain; however, I was giving this person a voice that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I often reflect on the moment to remind myself why I want to be a journalist. So many people have no means by which to tell their stories. As a journalist, I feel that my position to represent the underrepresented is a great social privilege. Each individual’s unique human condition is unimaginably beautiful and powerful. All of us have a story to tell. I want to tell your story.