I’m a student journalist at St. Bonaventure University, and I often find myself answering the question, “So, why did you get into journalism in the first place?” I find myself trying to explain to friends and peers why late nights spent at The Bona Venture student newspaper don’t bother me much. I know that to others, my work seems crazy and never ending. To me, though, it seems worth it.
I knew from a young age that I loved English. My grandma would come over to get me off the bus after school sometimes, and some of my favorite memories with her are of those days are from first grade.
I had a little red book full of sight words then. I already knew all of the words; I had taught myself to read a few years prior. But technically, I had to “read” the sight words as part of my homework, as my classmates and I were still learning simple words that my teacher considered helpful as she taught us how to become better readers.
Since I already had these words in my vocabulary and was proficient with them, my grandma and I made a game out of it. I memorized all 120 sight words, and I used to jump around the living room and list the sight words, in order, off the top of my head. I would do headstands, hop on one foot, do jumping jacks, everything. She just sat on the plaid red couch, her deep brown eyes glinting as she chuckled at the antics of that day. She appreciated my silly, childish humor and admired my determination on those days and for many years after, as she would tell me as I grew up.
My grandma was never very good at math; I suppose that must be genetic. She was an English teacher at Hamburg High School, and a beloved one at that. This was, after all, a woman who let me do headstands while I recited my sight words, so I can only imagine what went on in her classroom.
She always stressed the importance of grammar and proper word choice, even when I was a child. In fourth grade, when I told her I loved semicolons and wanted to use them more often, she warned me that I “had better learn to use them right or not use them at all.” We spent a few minutes reviewing what I knew and constructing sentences that used semicolons. What she probably doesn’t know is that I still love semicolons.
Moments like these formulated my interest in and love for the written language, and moments like the ones I’ve experienced in my freshman year at St. Bonaventure University have only furthered that love.
I decided to go into journalism when I was in seventh or eighth grade. Before that, I was convinced that I wanted to pursue a career as an actress on Broadway.
I loved musicals. There was something that so compelled me about the way that the lights hit the stage, the way that men and women set aside their differences to put on a show. I had only been in a few musicals at this point, but I was sure that I had found my passion, sure that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
As dreams of satin curtains and spotlights faded from view, what I found instead was writing. I’d always loved English, specifically writing. So as all of the glitz and glam of theater escaped me, black ink, the smell of newspaper and the power of words became my new fascination.
I realize now that what I was probably so attracted to was the idea of telling someone else’s story to others. Actors take on personas, usually ones that contrast with their own identities, to tell a story to an audience.
Journalism is not so far off from that. I feel a need to tell others’ stories. I have a love for finding answers, for representing the voiceless whenever possible and for the rush that comes with reporting.
I decided on journalism because of love. I stayed with journalism because of the rush.
I was hooked the first time I smelled a box of newspapers I had tediously worked on for hours. The papers that stared back at me when I opened that box were the first full issues of Out of the Blue, a newspaper I started with three seniors when I was a freshman in high school. I never knew a simple newspaper and the ink on its pages could foster such a sense of pride, but inevitably, that rush has come back to me each time I see a newspaper with my name on a byline.
Uncovering stories, having the opportunity to speak to people outside my normal realm and developing a generally more alert worldview are ways in which I can grow alongside the community of people I’m covering. I love that.
The rush of a breaking story, the feeling of securing the first interview with someone who has the information you know you need and the immense sense of dedication to the craft keeps newspaper ink running through my bloodstream.
The nights are long sometimes, and running from interview to interview on deadline can be trying. It doesn’t matter, though. The exhaustion that causes aching in my bones and bags under my eyes is cast aside the moment the story is done right, the moment that a pursuit for truth is accomplished, the moment that another person’s story becomes the center of other people’s attention.
If I didn’t love journalism so much, the rush would probably never come. But it does, each and every time. And for that, I’m so thankful. Because as the rush comes, so does my inclination to continue on in this field. Journalism is vital to our world, and I’m proud to be a journalist each and every day.
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