As I look back over my This I Believe statements, the first thing I notice is how my notion of who, exactly, is a “journalist” has changed. Before taking this course, I lumped any media figure into the category of journalists, thinking that anybody who reported on the news in any form qualified as a journalist. In class, we’ve discussed many times how nowadays, given the powers of the internet, more and more people are able to participate in journalism. Even so, my idea of who a journalist is has narrowed. After getting to know so many journalists, from Julie and Emilia, to the folks at the Detroit Free Press, and more, I have seen time and again the incredible amount of intellect and hard-work that a journalist must possess. In result, I would now draw a distinction between a stereotypical TV personality and a true journalist, as I see the latter figure as engaging much more deeply on the issue being reported.
I also wrote about my belief “in the beauty of language, and the ability of words to spark hope and empathy.” Interestingly, I think this course has taught me that while word choice and writing style are important to any story, in reality other considerations affect the quality of a story much more. For example, maintaining a fair, objective stance on an issue, making sure to interview a wide range of stories and only use quotes in context, and finding a topic that is both interesting and features a new development, should be key components of a good story. Without these elements in place, even the most beautifully worded story will flounder. Before taking this course, I put disproportionate emphasis on the importance of beautiful language in captivating an audience. Now, I see the power in uncovering and investigating truly “hot” topics.
Finally, regarding my views on journalism’s role to lift unsung voices, while I still strongly hold this view, I cannot easily decide if I feel the field of journalism at large accomplishes this. On the one hand, in cases such as Flint, journalists had an imperative role in uncovering huge governmental oversights and mistreatment of low socioeconomic status residents, most of whom were African American. In this case, without a doubt, journalism worked to the advantage of a demographic too often marginalized in American society. On the other hand, we have also investigated a number of cases in which the media has given far too much attention to certain issues, such as Ebola, while forgetting to report important coverage from equally, if not more, important topics, such as AIDS or malaria.