Growing up, most of my friends always knew what they wanted to do when they grew up. I did not. When I was in kindergarten I wrote on a poster that I wanted to be a police officer or a librarian, but after that it was all a little up in the air. I knew I had a lot of schooling ahead of me to figure out what was what. That's an integral part of whom I am, always wondering but willing to see what is out there and go with the flow.
Tonight, I have decided what I am going to do with the rest of my life. I want to be a journalist. Why, you might ask, why would I want to pursue a spot in an industry set for its demise? I would answer in complete disagreement to what you asked, communicating to you the passion that lies behind journalism that will fuel it to great heights once more. As I think about this, I can't help but look back on how all of this came together, on an unexpected path and through many chance circumstances. I now know what I want and I am confident.
I stumbled across journalism in a funny way. It was the second semester of my sophomore year of high school when my swim coach asked if I wanted to be the student liaison to our local newspaper, reporting the scores and highlights of our swim meets. I jumped at that opportunity and I began emailing updates from our swim meets to the local paper. I started to enjoy it and began sending little write-ups of what was going on instead of the facts. That led to me writing full-length articles on the swim team, which led to me being assigned independent articles. And just like that, I had fallen into journalism. I had fallen in love.
I continued to write with them through the school year and into the summer when I began to look for a summer job. I first went to the newspaper I had been writing with. Unfortunately, their offices were full but wanted me to write from home part-time. That same day, I reached out to a family friend who runs a popular parenting website, seeing if she needed any help around the office. She asked what I could do. Well, I sought real-life work experience, I was good with computers, social media, Internet stuffs, and well, writing. The latter clicked with her because she had seen my articles in the newspaper. So on my first day of work, I sat down expecting anything and funny enough, I began to write. I was to cover current events for their website, focusing on what was important to parents. So with this I began to write six to eight 300 word articles every day on what was going on in the world. This section was all me. Once again I had fallen into journalism and fallen in love. Sound familiar?
As the summer went on, I began to realize just how much I enjoyed this. It was the rush around the final Casey Anthony verdict that helped me to realize what exactly I love about it. The verdict was to be announced soon and I was ready. In one window I had a live feed of CNN, the other Twitter. The minute she was called 'not-guilty,' I ran down the hall to tell the managing editor, who quickly turned me back around to begin writing. Looking back, I can't help but remember how I excited I was that covering a 'breaking news situation.'
A few weeks ago, I was telling my uncle, who is the managing editor of financial news source, how much I liked journalism. He asked me what it was about journalism that I liked. Essentially, I told him what I had written above, but couldn't really explain it past that.
After watching Page One: Inside the New York Times, I feel I have a better grasp of what this crazy thing called journalism is that I fell in love with. All of this sort of 'clicked' when I watched the documentary. It showed me that although journalism is in the messed up state that it seems, the people at the core of it are passionate to grind out news that they are known for, continue to keep the world informed and continue to do what they do best. I found it both inspiring and jaw-dropping. This just clicked within me. I want to be a journalist when I grow up. And work for the New York Times.
What a perfect time to be a journalist -- right smack in the midst of the institution's collapse? Today, we are faced with a future where the path of journalism is shifting and many worry that I am making the wrong choice. What many see as a flailing business, I see as a defining moment for something that is a pillar of our culture. That's one problem right there, seeing journalism as a business. Though it's faced with a scenario that a business might be in, it cannot be approached on the same terms that a business would be.
In the movie, it showed part of what had gone wrong in journalism, sending it on a downward spiral. Following the bankruptcy of the Tribune, the parent company of some of the nation's top newspapers, the head of the company called himself "not a newspaper man, but a business man." With this, he sought to save the company. This might have seemed like the right way to approach a frail institution, but not one with such an impact on the world. That's another problem right there. I don't think people grasp how integral a part of society journalism is. Throughout history, it seems that people have taken it for granted. Now that economic times are not as bountiful, these newspapers need to find new ways to stay afloat.
Journalism is not just another business. The CEO of the Tribune treated it as a business and it failed as such, declaring bankruptcy. Print journalism has weaved itself into our culture more than anyone could imagine. And something this profound cannot be treated like a normal business -- it is not. If a 'newspaper man' came in to save the company with more moral causes and ideas, would the fate of the company have been different? I think so.
We are being faced with the opportunity to turn journalism around, back to where it was thriving five, 10, 15 years ago, but to adopt it for our crazy times. Through Page One, I was woken up to the realness of journalism. It is not the failing industry it plays itself out to be. The people featured in the documentary took this pillar of our society that is thought to be crumbling and approached to turn it around with such a positive outlook. Though in financial hardship, they see what they are doing as transforming journalism into something new, something that will become as big of a part of society as it once was, just in different ways.
I agree. I see it as a way to push out new ideas to invigorate this crucial staple of our society into the force that it once was. We live in a world where we need to be educated. We need to find a way to merge the happenings of the world to the people who inhabit it. Journalism, I think, will pave that path. And with the heights journalism reached in the past mixed with the determination of those behind it, journalism can and will be able to rise back onto its feet in ways never expected by the world. I am too freaking excited.
In turn, this movie took my small experience in journalism and warped it into the visual realness and determination of those behind it, making something click in my head. I feel that this is something bigger than I can fathom right now. Whether it is their faith, their perseverance, or their roll in both shaping the world and shaping what shapes the world, I've hit the jackpot and I want more. For the first time, I can see myself doing something for 'the rest of my life.' It's like taking what I love, making it real, and introducing a deeper meaning in all of it. I'm happy. I'm excited. Here we go.