Tag Archives: reporting

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!


The Dangers of Neutrality

Over a year ago, I tried to answer the question: “Is it possible to be unbiased?” In the time between that post and now, I’ve been dealing with a new challenge in trying to define “unbiased.”

Without taking back anything that I said, I have a slightly different approach this time. In my quest to be unbiased and fair to both sides, I discovered that trying to remain “neutral” is also not always a good thing.

As a reporter, it is important that you have a clear understanding of what you consider to be fair, because it is not always as easy as just covering both sides equally. When I was reading for my Writing and Reporting I class, I came across this quote which goes along with what I have been learning about “fairness” and being “unbiased.”

“…while journalists strive to be fair, fairness doesn’t require all sides to be presented equally in a story. A dictator (or a school bully) can justify his or her behavior, but the journalist is not being unfair to say that behavior is wrong.”1

You see, I discovered (or am in the process of discovering) that if you try to be right in the middle, you’ll either end up being tossed by the wind, or by choosing not to take a side, you will end up taking a side. It’s just not in human nature to be without opinions and personal values.

I still hold to the fact that everyone, especially reporters, should strive to reveal the truth, but sometimes it’s a little more tricky than that. The quote above brought up a really good point. Does being unbiased mean that you have to report everything as being okay or acceptable?

I found this happening not only when it came to reporting or journalism related tasks, but in everyday life–especially when it came to my faith. (I feel like you can’t talk about bias without mentioning faith because what you do is influenced by what you believe in.) In an effort to “not offend” people who didn’t share my worldview, I found myself in a very dangerous area of compromise. That’s the problem when you don’t have a standard to go by, or, in journalism, that’s what happens when you don’t have a clear definition of what is considered unbiased.

I’m not advocating that we go in the opposite direction and be stubborn about what we think is right, ostracizing anyone who disagrees with us. That can be even more dangerous. There has to be a balance between being respectful and aware of others’ opinions without becoming too “wishy-washy” when you report. I don’t have all the answers and definitions but I just figured I’d just give you some food for thought.

 

  1. Wilkinson, Jeffrey S., August E. Grant, and Douglas J. Fisher. Principles of Convergent Journalism. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2013. Print.