For my Reporting I class last term, we were expected to put together a mission statement for ourselves as journalists. This was my final draft and I thought I’d share.
Notes From Myself to Myself As An Aspiring Journalist:
- Be ambitious. There is no story too small nor challenging that you cannot conquer. If you have an idea, go with it.
- Don’t over-analyze what is simple. Oftentimes stories are much easier to find than you may expect. Let conversation and detail flow. You will be happier with the outcome if you don’t beat your assignment to death before you even start.
- Don’t wait until the last minute. Get your (pardon me) shit done! Nothing is worse than waiting for a source to get back to you when you have 3 hours until your deadline.
- It’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes you need a bit of guidance to get the ball rolling. Don’t be ashamed to reach out when you’re stumped. Life is all about learning; so is journalism.
- Never lose sight of yourself. It’s too easy to be influenced by those around you (ex. coworkers, editors, sources). Maintain your integrity and perspective even if opposing views are all that surround you.
- Serve yourself heaping glasses of creativity juice: DAILY. Always carry around a notebook to jot down thoughts. Your best ideas come in the middle of that two-hour-long lecture or while you’re counting inventory at work. Don’t lose those golden nuggets of inspiration.
My experiences while taking Reporting I have been (I’m almost afraid to say at the sake of sounding painfully cheesy but…) perspective-changing. The environment surrounding this course is absolutely vital for anyone looking to be a journalist, no matter what field you plan to pursue. People skills are of the upmost importance for journalists and I’m proud to say that I survived this demanding class for the past 10 weeks.
In my first draft of my mission statement, I admitted that I often question whether this is the right field for me. This class revealed that my perception of journalism was fairly narrow and my impression of reporters was negatively oriented. Having now experienced the challenges of reporting and interviewing first-hand, I realize that there is more to this field than I’d initially thought. While I believed reporters needed only to be aggressive and nearly breach the line of personal space, I now recognize that there is always room for emotion and to make real connections with your subjects. And that’s the type of journalist I want to be; one that has more to gain from a story than just a 3-page spread.
So in closing, I (minimally) adjust my initial mission statement as a journalist to better fit the lessons I’ve learned throughout this term: Don’t allow the harshness of the world nor the title of your career make you any less sympathetic to the people around you. This not only includes the people I write about, but those that I work with, live with, spend time with… Be that journalist that surprises people and shows more than just the professional side of her job (although professionalism is very important!). Help to improve the image of journalists around the world, never bullshit your stories, and don’t forget to actually enjoy your career.