08/04/2014 06:40 pm ET Updated Oct 04, 2014

My Big Moment in Journalism


Most journalists are aware that they won't have a story to fall onto their laps like Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward did.

However, the little victories count.

In the African-American community, we tend to blame media images for how we are perceived.

Malcolm X once said, "If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."

However, how many of us get involved in journalism to change the narrative?

For me, journalism is not only a crusade, it's personal.

I'm not saying that someone should drop what they are doing and head straight to "J-school."

Let's think about this, If we can post twerking videos and fights to World Star Hip-Hop, we can do the type of citizen journalism needed in our communities.

Last month, a colleague emailed me about a 14-year-old girl that went missing in Calumet City, a suburban town just south of Chicago.

Through that same colleague, I spoke with the mother about writing a story about her daughter. The mother was reluctant to let the media get involved. I told the mother if her daughter was from a much more affluent demographic, we would know all about it. I told her that the article could help get the word out.

She also told me that local law enforcement were initially hesitant to get involved due to the history of the girl running away from home.

I proceeded to give her the cliff notes version on how the effort put forth to find African-American kids is not the same as it is for white kids.

Soon after, the mother relented.

Two weeks later, I received a call from the private investigator the girl's family hired.

The private investigator found the girl.

He told me that the people who spotted the girl saw the article I wrote in the paper. The private investigator told me that if it wasn't for the article I wrote, he would not have found the girl.

According to the P.I., he received two phone calls from people who said they saw a girl that matched the description. The first person spotted the girl coming from a McDonald's in Calumet City. The second caller saw her at an apartment complex nearby.

The P.I. says both callers recognized the girl after seeing her photo in the story I wrote.

"The calls that came in were from people who saw the number in the paper (Southtown Star)," he said. "We got a great response."

The P.I. says the newspaper article describing the disappearance was a big help.

"With the help of the paper, we had a tremendous response. Without the coverage, we wouldn't have been successful in finding this young lady."

Assisting someone in bringing their child home safe is one of those moments in my career I will never forget.

The validation I had been looking for had finally came to fruition.

In one moment in time, journalism did right by the people who are most affected by it. However, there is still a lot of work to be done.

I fully intend to fight the good fight.