Tag Archives: journalism

A Journalist’s Thankful List (2016)

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Bad news: my annual “thanksgiving post” is getting later and later–most definitely a journalism fail on my part (better late than never?). Good news: this is officially my first thankful list as a journalist… not a journalism student.

As usual, my lists seem to have a theme. In 2013, it was people; 2014 was about challenges; 2015 had an “un-journalistic” theme; and finally, this year, it’s all about NEW things.

New York

This summer, I moved to New York. If you told me that was going to happen, I would have never believed you. One, because I have only visited the city once and spent less than 24 (very stressful) hours wandering around Manhattan. And, two, because New York was on my “never going to move there” list. The hustle and bustle of New York City and my personality are polar opposites. Yet, in a series of events too long to write out here, I started to see New York as the perfect setting to my “journey to journalism.” I found an apartment and transferred to a Starbucks in the Bronx all in about a month’s time; and, before I knew it, I was struggling up the five (yes, FIVE) flights of stairs with three suitcases to move into my new home. While I can’t say I’ve always wanted to live here, I know that many people who do, never get the opportunity to do so and in light of that, I don’t want to take it for granted. I’m thankful that God opened up doors, and I can confidently say, I don’t regret this move one bit.

New Perspective

As much as I hate fitting stereotypes, I realized I moved here with the whole, “New York or bust” mentality, daydreaming of the many opportunities that awaited me in the Big Apple. I spent hours looking up entry level jobs and internships, writing countless cover letters all the while working as a barista at the Starbucks near Yankee Stadium. A couple of months into this routine, I got really discouraged. I wasn’t hearing back and the last thing I wanted to do at this point was write another cover letter. In the midst of this dry season though, I started to develop a new perspective.

When I arrived here, I thought it wouldn’t be too long before I found something and transitioned out of working at Starbucks. I grew frustrated when things weren’t going according to plan and just dreamed about the day when I could have that “nice job in the city.” But then, I grew to love the neighborhood I live in. I felt that, without saying a word, I could relate to the others commuting to work with that exhausted yet determined look on their faces (a look many may interpret to be that “New York scowl”). There was something about the whole experience that felt raw and real. Downtown New York is nice and definitely has a lot to see and learn from, but man, Uptown and the Bronx was home to me. I am definitely not doing this explanation justice, but through things not going my way, my goals, priorities, and perspectives shifted, and for that, I am thankful.

New Job

So, remember how I was saying I didn’t hear back from any job applications for what felt like a really long time? Well, at the end of summer, one of the places I had a phone interview with when I just moved to New York reached out to me to see if I was still interested in the position. At this point, I kind of took a break from the application madness because, honestly, with that perspective change, I had grown quite comfortable with my flexible Starbucks schedule and really loved the people I worked with. I figured, maybe it’s a good time to narrow my job search process and really think about what I wanted to do next.

Long story short, I ended up going in for that interview, and another one after that and now, I can officially say that I am a reporter. More specifically, a reporter for a trade publication on Wall Street that covers the defined contributions (401k) industry. Just like I never thought I would call New York “home,” I didn’t quite think that my first job would be as a financial reporter. However, I’m learning that life, especially as an aspiring journalist, takes these unpredictable twists and turns. These detours, as surprising or unexpected as they may be, can turn out to be some of life’s greatest blessings.

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What I’m Looking Forward to this Spring

In my first two weeks of living in D.C., I have already developed a pretty good idea of what I plan to get out of my time here. To sum it all up, by the end of this semester, I expect to be engaged.

I know, that is an odd statement to find on this blog. What those who know me may find even more striking is the fact that I am 100% single. But, I’m not talking engagement like proposal, wedding dress shopping and cake tasting (although I do plan to eat my share of sweets here in D.C. 😉 ). What I mean by “I expect to be engaged” is I have a feeling that living and working in a city with such unique dynamics will teach me to go out of my comfort zone and learn to engage with the neighborhood and consequently the world around me.

Engage with the Community 

One aspect of the Washington Journalism Center that I did not expect, but am extremely grateful for, is the fact that since the day we have arrived here, our leaders have been encouraging us to get involved in the community around us. Whether that is through finding a local church to plug into or looking for opportunities to volunteer, they want us to not just be tourists in D.C. and not even to merely be young professionals here, but to explore and discover the rich culture and community that surrounds us. Believe it or not, D.C. is not all business and government. There are neighborhoods full of people with an unlimited amount of untold stories and pasts (and that excites the aspiring journalist in me).

Last semester, I took online classes from home and got a taste of life after college. In that time, I realized that there is at least one thing campus life does not prepare you for, and that is taking the initiative to get involved. To a certain extent, yes, you have to learn to go out and find organizations that you like and want to be a part of, but all your options are all crammed together in one location and every single organization vies for your attention. All you have to do is go to an “org fair” and sign up for whatever piques your interest. In the “real world,” the “campus organization fair” is a lot larger, and unless you learn to get out into your community and learn about what different businesses, churches and organizations have to offer, you will be stuck in the dreaded work, home, work, home cycle completely oblivious to all the community events and outreaches there are right in your neighborhood!

Engage with People 

This area for me is a work in process. When we got here, we were told to interact with the people we encounter just waiting at the bus stop or riding the metro because of the potential to learn so much from talking to different people. While part of me is excited to meet total strangers and be blown away by the stories they have to share, the other part of me (the part that has seen some harsh realities of human nature) is hesitant to just talk to everyone I meet. This challenge made me realize just how far I’ve retracted into my shell in the past year. The people here in D.C. are so kind and helpful, and it is so fun and easy to interact with everyone…when I’m in a group. However, when I’m traveling alone, I find it hard to find the fine line between being antisocial and being safe.

Clearly, I haven’t mastered this area of my semester of engagement, but this is just the beginning. While I am a little intimidated and scared, I am up to the challenge. I know that if I consistently apply this, it will stretch and grow me. Sorry Mom, but I’m going to talk to strangers.

Engage with my Future 

This is the last one and kind of self-explanatory so I’ll keep it short since this post is already much longer than I anticipated. Basically, besides knowing that I want to go into journalism, I have no idea what that might look like in my future. Being able to actually intern and be mentored by someone in the field is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m excited to see how this semester will shape and mold my goals and dreams giving a more specific direction for my “journey to journalism.” I may not be getting a ring this spring, but I do plan on being engaged on so many different levels.

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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?


The Main Reason

courtesy of Reinventing Events

courtesy of Reinventing Events

Sometimes, in the midst of pursuing a dream, you lose sight of why you dreamt it in the first place, until something reminds you. For me, that ‘something’ came in the form of a StrenghtsQuest test.

About a month ago, I had to take an online StrengthQuest test for my school. At the time, I just wanted to get it out of the way. Little did I know that taking that test would lead me back to journalism (as everything seems to do in my life, haha).

At the end of the Clifton StrengthsFinder test, you are given your “top five talent themes” along with a list that explains what those “themes” mean. My top five were: Restorative, Individualization, Belief, Analytical and Responsibility, but the one that stuck out was “individualization.”

The description says:

“Your Individualization theme leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person… You hear the one-of-a-kind stories in each person’s life…”

There are numerous reasons why I want to be a journalist. Writing. Meeting people. The adrenaline from deadlines. Traveling. But when it all comes down to it, I chose journalism because I thrive off of hearing other people’s stories and thinking of the best way I can share them. To me, journalism is really all about the story. The story is what makes the connection; it’s what make an article or newspaper more than just columns of words.

Even breaking news revolves around a story. Yes, initially when a terrible natural disaster strikes or a tragedy hits, the news media focuses on keeping everyone updated on the facts in the midst of the chaos. However, it is in these crises that stories are made as the random stranger becomes a hero and that timid guy in the office rises up to lead everyone to safety. This is why I love journalism. Each and everyone of us has an untold story with the potential to expose a stronger and unique side of us. Think of all the stories that are yet to be made and discovered.


They Speak, We Tweet

First off, yes, I know it’s been almost a month since my last post! I have officially failed as a blogger, but if it means anything, here’s another new post.

Over the past month, I have been to two journalism conferences, and I was amazed, yet again, by how much social media has impacted this field. In fact, the name of the first conference was actually called “Reporting, Writing, Tweeting it Out: What is Journalism in 2014?” and the second conference was the International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ) which focused on journalism in the “digital age.”

What probably amazed me the most was how many mobile devices/laptops were being used during the sessions. Not to mention, both of the conferences had a hashtag created specifically for those attending to tweet about the sessions as they were going on. Also, during the Q&A sessions, there was a live Twitter feed at ISOJ where you could see the latest posts of those tweeting about the conference.

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My view of the live Twitter feed at ISOJ overlooking the screens of all the laptops and iPads…welcome to the 21st century.

As a millennial, I am not too shocked about this whole push to tweet and go digital, but it is still a little weird. I can remember the times when it was considered rude to have your phone out when someone was talking, much less be on your computer. Now, as Jim Brady, editor in chief at Digital First Media said at ISOJ, “I see more Apples in here than an orchard.” If you don’t have some smartphone, iPad, or laptop out during a session, you kind of stand out. Between almost every session, the conference coordinators would keep encouraging us to get out our mobile devices and tweet away. After these two conferences, I must say that I’ve learned a lot about tweeting and I’m getting more used to it, but…

 

Is it effective? 

Maybe I just haven’t mastered the amazing multi-tasking skills of journalists, but a lot of the times, when I’m trying to construct a concise and accurate tweet around something a speaker mentioned or brought up, I miss the next 5 minutes or so of the session. I also noticed that the other people attending the conferences were not just on Twitter during the conference. Some were researching more on the program or article that the speaker would mention, while others were writing articles or making final touches to their powerpoint presentations. I can definitely see this as being a useful tool to look into something right as the speaker talks about it as opposed to waiting until you get home to look it up, but doesn’t that serve as a distraction from the session that you paid money to attend? Where is the line drawn between a mobile device serving as a supplementary aid to listening to a session verses a distraction from the speaker?

 


The Walter Mitty Syndrome

11712079046_eb6e6bff9bIn continuing with my movie theme from my last post, I have officially diagnosed myself with what I like to refer to as “the Walter Mitty syndrome.” As I watched the movie in theaters earlier this year, I found myself identifying with the main character, played by Ben Stiller. The deeper I get into journalism, the more I am affected by this “syndrome.”

For those of you who haven’t read or watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, it revolves around a man who works for Life magazine (which already stuck out to me as an aspiring journalist). Working around so many stories and pictures of wild adventures and breathtaking sceneries feeds his bouts of daydreaming. Mitty will see something or think of something that triggers an action-packed adventure… in his head.

Well, with the constant brainstorming of possible news stories, I too drift off and, like Mitty, I often find myself tuning someone out in a conversation. I could be talking to a friend, eavesdropping…I mean, listening to those around me, or even sitting in class when someone will mention something that happened to them or something that’s coming up and immediately, my mind starts to go down the perilous path of “could that be a news story?” As I construct the whole story, thinking about possible sources, and trying to come up with a thought-provoking or innovative take on the story, I realize that I have completely phased out of reality. This is not good, especially when it happens in the middle of a professor reviewing for a test (sorry professors).

Just last week, I was going through lifeguard training and the instructor was talking about how water was considered a weapon, and that there were around 74 water related deaths in Texas in 2013. When he said that, I remembered that my school has a pool without a lifeguard on duty. I started to think of the possibility of doing a story on the amount of emergencies in the pool or maybe find out more about what the facility’s plan of action is in case of an emergency. Then I realized that the instructor had been continuing to talk the whole time… and I had no idea what he had said after the “74 water related deaths” part. Not a good thing to do when being trained on something like saving someone from drowning. I need a cure.

P.S. Yes, I wrote this post while listening to the Walter Mitty soundtrack the whole time. Just thought I’d let you know.


What is the Purpose of a Journalist? pt. 2

unnamedIn part 1, I talked about the challenges that come with journalism being both a business and a service. However, in this post, I want to key in on the service aspect of journalism. Something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is who do I serve? Yes, the news media should exist to inform the public, but when you really think about it, there at least two different ways to approach this “service” aspect of journalism.

Currently, as the editor in chief of my university’s newspaper, I’ve been faced with the challenge of determining who the school’s publication exists to serve – the students or the administration? As a newspaper, especially of a school, you represent something whether it be your organization, cause or country. However, you also have a responsibility to keep your audience informed whether the news about what you represent is positive or negative; otherwise, you walk the fine line of being biased. The dilemma I have found myself facing quite frequently is wanting to keep students informed while at the same time respecting my school’s reputation.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I really love my school and I believe it has so much to offer. There is definitely a lot of good news to cover, but when things come up that concern students, I would like to be able to give them the information they want to know. After all, isn’t that what a newspaper is for? Even if the article addresses a “problem” in the school, I believe being transparent and maintaining open communication with students is more advantageous than only covering the great victories, improvements and on-campus conferences. If there is nothing being released from the administration or people who are involved in the issue, students will eventually start filling in the gaps on their own whether it’s with facts or with rumors. That’s why I think there are definitely pros to publishing “bad news” (by “bad” I’m referring to the topic, not the quality… just wanted to clarify that).

As a student and an editor in chief, I definitely want to respect my school and highlight all our accomplishes. I want our newspaper to be a great representation of the university, but does that mean we can’t publish stories that address areas of improvement or weaknesses in our school as well? Isn’t it biased to only publish good news? How do you respectfully publish “bad news”? Thoughts?