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Journalism realization

May 5, 2012

Seven months after my first epiphany, I have had another revelation about my future. Don’t worry, folks, I’m still pursuing journalism – and history, for that matter. I have just figured out exactly(ish) what I want to do in the journalism field. Granted, I still have three years and three weeks left of my college career, so that could change, and that could change after college as well. However, for right now, I am feeling pretty content about what I want from journalism.

I’ve always said I love telling stories, and I do. Hearing the stories of average and noteworthy people each morning on the “Today” show is a big reason why I initially decided to take high school journalism and then pursue this major in college.

In my 19-year-old lifetime, I have had many loves. I have loved journalism, history, reading, music, and television. Goodness knows, I love television. I realized that the characteristic that all of these things have in common is characters, and every time I watch the news or open a history book or start a novel or listen to a song or watch my favorite show, I look to connect with the characters. I try to identify with them, and I feel connected with them somehow to the point where I start to truly care about them, even if they’re fictionalized. That’s perfection on the creator’s part.

I’ve been considering pursuing political journalism for a bit now; I follow the elections closely and get really excited about election and convention coverage. I am a political junkie, after all. But during this year, I have realized that just because I like something doesn’t mean it’s meant to be my career. Just because I pay attention to politics doesn’t mean I’m meant to be a political correspondent, and honestly, I’m not very interested in the day-to-day happenings in Washington, D.C., and I don’t really see myself leading “Meet The Press” or a daily political show any time in the future.

I don’t have to be the journalist who breaks the next Watergate scandal. I don’t have to be the one vying for the most important stories. I want to cover news, but I don’t just want to be there, standing in the eye of a hurricane, telling the audience that this storm is coming through this city and is bringing this much destruction. No, instead, I want stand in the eye of the hurricane and find an individual who has lived in a city his whole life and is about to have everything he knows wash away. I want to be on the campaign trail with a candidate and find someone who hopes her life will be turned around when this politician is elected. I want to report on the human element in news stories.

When a major news story breaks, I watch cable. The reporters give a short account of the news event, and then, they (hopefully) go into a longer piece about a specific part of that story. They interview the woman whose husband was at work during the tornado. They interview the child who just found his dog after the hurricane. My ideal job would be a news reporter, and as a news reporter, I would focus on the human element. When I watch the news, I want to hear stories of ordinary people like me doing extraordinary things because it gives me hope. In everything I do, as I try to connect with characters or people, I look to be inspired. I want to be a good journalist who tells accurate stories, interviews the important figures, is in the important places at the important moments, and recognizes the power of the medium. But most importantly, I want my stories in journalism to inspire others.

I recently watched a montage of the “Today” show in the 1960s, a very turbulent time period in our nation’s history. In a clip of JFK’s funeral, Barbara Walters stood outside of the Capitol building and reported on the citizens passing by the coffin the rotunda. That’s the kind of thing I want to do. I don’t so much care about what bill Congress is looking at on which day, but I care about making sense of the important events. I want to be a voice Americans can look to in times of tragedy and awe, and I want to provide perspective and meaning.

I don’t want to do that by becoming chief political correspondent or by writing stories about scandal and deadlock in Washington. I don’t want to spend my life writing about fashion or fluff. I don’t want to spend my life telling an audience that this event is about to occur or something really cool happened unless I can make it have meaning for them. I think I would be happiest reporting the news because I know my education has and will continue to prepare me to find that individual who deserves to have his story told, and I will tell his story. I want to go to the important places and witness incredible things and report on them, and in doing so, I want to tell the stories of thousands of individuals around the world. I believe that would make my life as a journalist have meaning, and after all, you only live once.

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From → Freshman

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