Category Archives: Food for Thought

Lessons Learned from a Web of Necklaces

A couple nights ago, I finally decided to tackle the daunting task of untangling this:

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This, my friends, is the result of neglected necklaces.

As I was sitting and staring at the web of necklaces, I realized that it perfectly summed up my life. (Disclaimer: I plan on milking this analogy for all it’s worth, so if cheesy analogies aren’t for you, you’ve been warned). As a senior in college, thinking about my future gets my brain all jumbled up. There are so many options out there, I don’t know where to start. Honestly, it was/is overwhelming, which, I guess, is normal for a twenty-something. But you see that round necklace with small words scribbled across it? That represents journalism to me.

Amidst the chaos that is my life, there is one thing that continues to be clear to me – I want to be a journalist. You might be thinking, “Well, duh Chels, this whole blog is about how you want to become a journalist.” However, throughout college, life has shaped my desires, dreams and aspirations significantly. Life has a way of doing that, I suppose. Despite all that has changed though, journalism continues to be that one clear object in my tangled web.

Going back to the necklaces, when I started untangling it, I truly thought it was a lost cause. I didn’t know where to start, but eventually, I got one imprisoned necklace free which gave me the patience to continue working at it until, one-by-one, every necklace was free.

I know what I want to be “when I grow up,” but getting there is another story. Looking at the unknown future ahead of me, I have no idea where to start, but the important thing is that I do actually start. If I just stared at that knot of necklaces, there is no way they would’ve gotten untangled by themselves. It took me working at one knot at a time, even when I didn’t know if what I was attempting to achieve was even possible. My career goals and aspirations might seems like a long shot at times, but perhaps, by working and focusing on one thing at a time, I will be able to sort through this web I call my “journey to journalism.”

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The Real Cost of News

Over a year ago, I blogged about my fear of the unknown future coupled with the sometimes overwhelming, scary nature of journalism. Tonight’s event at the Newseum, (which also happened to be my first “official journalism event in D.C.”) brought that concept of the “scary side of journalism” to a whole other level.

At the beginning of the event, they played videos documenting the stories of journalists James Foley and Austin Tice. Both were correspondents in Syria who were kidnapped months apart from each other in 2012. Their families worked persistently to discover the whereabouts of these men. The search for Foley ended tragically when footage of his beheading was released on YouTube. Tice, on the other hand, is still missing.

His mom, Debra Tice, along with Foley’s mom, Diane Foley, shared what they learned about the press and government through their experience. Hearing from these two women was eye-opening and it definitely made me wonder what the government could do to improve the way they handle this issue, which is becoming increasingly common as more and more journalists are being threatened in various parts of the world.

Of all the issues and questions raised tonight, what really stuck with me was the passion that drove Foley and Tice to willingly put their lives on the line to capture the conflict in Syria. Both of them did not have to go. In fact, both their families, and even some of their colleagues, urged them not to go, but they wanted to communicate the harsh realities of what is going on in the other side of the world. To me, that is the heart of journalism. Journalists exist to provide a window into lives, places and events that most others wouldn’t normally have access to.

But then, how far is too far? This is essentially what Kathleen Carroll of the Associated Press brought up in a discussion after Diane Foley and Debra Tice shared their experiences. She asked if the story was worth the risk. While this is a question that I don’t think I could ever fully answer, from an aspiring journalist’s point of view, if the story increases awareness amongst the public and equips them with the information they need to take action, I think that yes, it is worth it. I would not advise irresponsibly putting oneself in dangerous situations in order to get a story, but if there is a passion and clear purpose, the kind that I saw in Foley and Tice, then it is definitely worth it. I mean look at the impact it is having today. We are still talking about their work and almost three years after they went missing, they inspired me in my endeavors to report “nothing but the truth.”

In her closing remarks on the panel, Carroll said that in light of this issue, the news audience (a.k.a. everyone) has a responsibility to care about and appreciate the work that these journalists are doing. I can definitely say that this event gave me a deeper appreciation for the news. The price of that article you read or the video footage you watched goes beyond just a few dollars at the convenience store or having to endure a 30 second ad. There are journalists out there like Foley and Tice who are risking their lives, and that’s the real cost of news.

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Lessons from Being Stuck in Traffic

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Estimation of what this past holiday season’s traffic will be like. Courtesy of Skift.com

The holiday season is wrapping up and with it (hopefully) the crazy traffic. There are many reasons why being stuck in traffic can be frustrating, but I think the biggest reason is because we are so focused on the destination. Traffic keeps us from getting where we need to go in the amount of time we want. However, if we take a step back, there is actually a lot to be learned  (and dare I say, enjoyed?) in traffic.

One day, I was on my way to work and happened to leave right when everyone else wanted to go to the mall. Sitting behind rows of cars, I turned on the radio and actually started enjoying the time in the car to just listen to music and slow down in the midst of the most hectic, fast-paced season of the year. I found myself admiring the scenery around me instead of worrying about whether or not I would make it to work on time. Then, it hit me. The past 5 months of my life were very much like a life version of a traffic jam. Going from a busy campus life schedule to taking three classes online at home was definitely a change of pace… and I hated it.

Just like we get frustrated with rush hour traffic, I was extremely frustrated with the detour my life took. Why? Because I was focused on the destination instead of the journey. After my five month traffic jam, I would be headed to Washington D.C. for a journalism semester, but in the mean time, I was stuck with a lot less to do than I had before. I didn’t like this little, uncertain plateau of waiting and planning. I wanted to experience, travel, do something exciting!

Thanks to being stuck in traffic on my way to work, I had time to reflect on this and realize that sometimes, life’s traffic jams are necessary. They can be painful and annoying, but they also give you time to slow down. Perhaps last semester was God’s way of getting my attention to get things in order before things started to pick up again.

The next time I hit traffic whether it be on the road or on my journey to journalism, I will choose to be thankful for the time to slow down and reflect on the finer things of life. Happy New Years!


Nothing But The… Bad News? (It’s all about perspective)

Do you know someone who doesn’t read the news anymore because it’s “depressing” or “always negative”? Perhaps those are some excuses you use to avoid keeping up with current events. If that is you, don’t worry, this post isn’t meant to call you out, but I do want to challenge our perspectives (yes, our, I’ll be the first to admit that I have had times where I have felt intimidated to approach all that is “the world of news”).

Anyway, what does perspective have to do with this? Well, if you will bear with me a little longer, I’m going to digress a bit further and then (hopefully) bring this back full circle to answer the big question of “Why is the news always bad?”

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As you may or may not know, I’m from Hawaii. If you’re not from Hawaii, you probably are thinking I live in paradise, and in many ways, you’d be right. Hawaii is beautiful, the weather is relatively nice (especially this time of the year), and it is my home. However, growing up here, as with growing up anywhere, hasn’t been easy. So, tied with my view of Hawaii is the valleys I’ve faced in life, the fact that I’m not on vacation somewhere else, and the high cost of living! And recently with transferring schools, being in Hawaii also means that I’m no longer enrolled at Houston Baptist University. That said, this isn’t meant to be a complete downer about Hawaii because ask any tourist who has paid their whole life’s savings to spend a week here and they will tell you how amazing Hawaii is and how they cannot wait to be back here. Now, there’s nothing different between my Hawaii and that tourist’s Hawaii, but there IS a big difference on the perspectives we have… see, I told you I’d bring this back around.

Perspective and News 

While there are a lot of unpleasant things that are going on in the world today, a lot of how we see the news depends on how we read the news. What is the perspective you have prior to even reading that first article? If you’re expecting a story about a tragic event or social injustice, you’ll definitely find it. BUT, if you’re expecting an inspiring story of someone who survived a tragic event or took action to right a social injustice, then you’ll find that too. Combining my Hawaii analogy and this lesson on perspectives might be a stretch, but sometimes, we need to see our news like a tourist sees Hawaii. I’m definitely in need of a perspective check, how about you?