Deep End?

It was my first, real official story. I’d gone to the meeting. Listened to the editors speak and voluntarily raised my hand to write about the Chinese Mid Autumn Moon Festival. I had no idea what that was and lucky for me one of the fellow journalism students in the room happened to be involved in the celebration, otherwise I would have had no idea where to start.

I had taken Journalism 100. I had learned about the ethics of journalism, about Associated Press style and how to effectively and professionally interview someone. I knew the theory behind writing a lead, the different kinds of leads you can write and the differences between a feature based story or a hard news one.

But I really had no idea how to be a journalist.

We had watched ‘All the Presidents Men’ and talked about the qualities we saw: determination, passion, curiosity, integrity. I knew the four key things you needed to do in order to be successful and I could write you a rote list of what qualities it takes to be a good journalist.

But I had never had to really apply them before.

Journalism 100 was great. It introduced me to the field, taught me the necessary basics and I felt supported the whole way through. If I didn’t know something, I could ask. There were always guidelines to follow and details to pay attention too; but when I came to write my first real story, there was no-one holding my hand.

That’s not too say that The Campus staff didn’t offer assistance at any time. If i needed real help, I knew I could have emailed someone. But as I said, I felt like I already knew the basics. I knew what I was supposed to do, I just needed to figure out how to take the notes I had written in class and apply them to real life situations. I had to figure out what kind of journalist I was going to be.

In the end, my first story wasn’t too challenging. My sources came together nicely and were easy to find but I still remember points throughout the whole process when I stepped back and thought – what on earth do I do here? How do I handle this situation? Or where do I go to next? And a lot of the questions I felt were common sense based, or so simple that I didn’t want to ask them. Some of them were probably just doubts that I had about myself.

I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing half the time. I feel like my learning curve is extremely steep and am confident that I will make mistakes along the way. But I also know those mistakes are probably going to be more important than the things I nail on the first time around.

I’m three stories down and still feel lost half the time, but I know I’m loving it and can’t wait to really establish what kind of journalist I am.