Tag Archives: purpose

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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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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From WJMC to WJC

As soon as the plane landed, I looked out my window, saw this and knew that I was here at last. My home for the semester.

As soon as the plane landed, I looked out my window, saw this and knew that I was here at last. My home for the semester.

Staring out my window looking at the Capitol, I think back on all that has happened and can’t believe I’m actually here in Washington D.C. The last time I was in the nation’s capital marked the beginning of this blog and my “journey to journalism”…and what a journey it has been! Before the craziness that is living and studying in D.C. begins, I figured I would use this downtime to recap all the major events that led to this very moment.

WJMC

Like I said, this blog, and consequently this journey all started almost four years ago when I was invited to attend the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC). This program gathered high school seniors from around the nation who had one thing in common – we all wanted to pursue a career in the media. That week in D.C. gave me a glimpse of the world of journalism and provided me with amazing opportunities such as hearing from successful professionals in the field from the Today show’s Hoda Kotb to film critic Kevin McCarthy. Since it was more of an academic driven program, we had some assignments and one of them included blogging about our week in D.C. Thus, my “Nothing But the Truth” blog began.

I can’t really remember if this is exactly how it went down, but I’m pretty sure I was looking up more information about WJMC when I came across something called the Washington Journalism Center (WJC). They offered a semester-long journalism program where we could take classes and intern just blocks away from the Capitol. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, but it was offered to juniors and seniors… in college. I was still in high school, so that got put on the back burner until a couple years later…

An Unexpected Guest

In my sophomore year, my journalism professor invited someone to speak to my Writing and Reporting I class. The special guest was Terry Mattingly who just happens to be the director of, yep, you guessed it, WJC. Okay, so the director of the program I was looking into two years ago comes to my classroom. That must be a sign, right? Well, at the time I honestly didn’t think so. You see, when Mattingly came to visit my class, I was in a love/hate relationship with journalism. I still wanted to pursue that major, but I was second guessing whether the hard-hitting, fast-paced, deadline news scene was right for me. No doubt, there were certain things that excited me about being a journalist, but there were also things that overwhelmed me, especially after I started realizing how much social media has changed the dynamics of journalism. I even started to consider ways I could use my degree in settings other than the newsroom. So, when we had the director of WJC visit our campus, I didn’t flood him with questions like I would usually do. I took the flyer and that was basically it. Little did I know, his visit watered a seed that grew into a determination to attend WJC no matter what the costs were… and boy, was there a cost.

The Big Move

After telling my professor about my intentions to apply for the journalism semester, I started what I thought would be a normal application process. At the beginning, everything was going well. I had started my application almost a year before it was due so I figured I had a lot of time to work out the little details along the way. However, summer of 2014 came and since I was working at a summer camp, I didn’t have much access to my computer. This put the WJC related communications between me and my school on hold. When I came back in the fall to get all the school forms signed and submitted, there was an unexpected financial issue that surfaced and, to make a long story short, there was no way I could afford going to WJC through my university. So, the first week of my junior year, I transferred to another college that had a more cooperative school policy, and moved from Texas back home to Hawaii where I took online classes for a semester. Four years and two schools later, here I (finally!) am, back where it all started. I have no idea what to expect of this semester, but after all those ups and downs in getting here, rest assured, I intend on making the best of it!


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?


What is the Purpose of a Journalist? pt. 1

From the day that I decided to take this “journey to journalism,” I have been asking myself, “What is the purpose of journalists and the media?” Just like my “Is it possible to be unbiased?” question, this is most likely one that I will continue learning about for the rest of my life. That said, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some thoughts that I want to share.

Obviously, journalists are there to serve the public through distributing important and relevant information. When looked at it this way, journalism could be accurately described as a service. There is no denying that through the news media, people have been able to access information from weather forecasts to traffic reports to updates during an emergency or crisis. While I might be a little biased, I think it can be argued that journalists and the information they provide make life a little easier.

However, it does not stop there. Journalism is also a business. There are salaries to be paid and other competing publications to out-do, so to speak. This is not meant to be a negative aspect of journalism because practically everything in one way or another is a business. Every industry has  something that they want to sell to the public as well as its share of competitors. For the news media industry, it is important to think of ways to distribute the information in a way that is most convenient and appealing to potential viewers and readers and get it out to them before “breaking news” becomes “old news.”

So, here we have journalism as a service and journalism as a business. Where and when they both overlap in a perfect world is what I’m still trying to figure out. As with any business, sometimes news media can become corrupt and deceptive in an attempt to make one’s publication or article stand out amongst the billions of stories out there. It can become hard to draw the line between business and service as a journalist because yes, you want to serve the public (or at least, you should) but at the same time you need to think of innovative ways to present the news. This isn’t supposed to result in twisting stories to make them sound more interesting, but unfortunately, sometimes that happens.

What are your thoughts on this? What is the purpose of journalists? How can journalists be both business-minded and service-minded?