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.