“What are you going to do once you leave school?”
The question that no one escapes from. It starts as a casual, thought-provoking question as a kid and as we grow up we’re expected to not only provide sensible answers- sadly ‘I want to be an astronaut’ doesn’t cut it anymore- but also have some kind of plan thought out as to how we’re going to get there.
Lucky for me, I’ve been pretty set on my future career for as long as I can remember. I have vague memories of wanting to be a model or a singer and to be famous but thankfully I grew up. I also realised I love food too much to be a model and I can’t sing. I also figured out being famous definitely isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And on top of all that, I realised I had no talent to become famous with.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a Journalist. I remember the moment that the first seed was planted in my head. I was in Year 6 at primary school and I’d always been really good at spelling and writing and all that jazz. (I don’t want to brag but I was constantly in the top spelling group every year…unfortunately I can’t say the same for Maths.) Anyway, I was standing at my teacher’s desk getting her to mark my work, what that piece of writing was has temporarily slipped my mind but I think it was a creative piece about how the Kiwi got it’s beak. I’m sure it’s still lying around somewhere, at least I hope it is. I seem to remember it involving a magical bird that was a wizard and the Kiwi was granted a beak but at the cost of it’s wings… I had a really good imagination. I remember my teacher reading it and telling me that I had a talent and I should think about getting into Journalism and that she thought I’d be really good at it. At that age my knowledge of Journalism was fairly limited – I think my first thought was reading the news.
As I’ve grown up, the Journalism idea has stuck with me pretty firmly but my understanding of it has changed a fair bit. I’ve always had the idea of going into TV Journalism but when you mention that to someone, most people assume that you’re in it for the fame and glamorous side of being on camera and to be honest, I couldn’t care less about that. Personally I want to get into TV because as cheesy as it sounds, I think TV is a much more powerful medium than newspapers or radio. The 6pm news for example: thousands of houses up and down the country have their TV on, whether it’s in the background or if they are sitting down attentively watching it. Boom, you and your story are being broadcasted into all these homes. Sure, radio has the immediacy factor, but seeing footage of a disaster is so much more powerful than seeing a still picture or hearing about it on the radio.
Take the Boston bombings for example, when the news first broke on Twitter my first thought was ‘Oh no, that’s bad.’ When the pictures and eye-witness reports started coming in, everything started seeming a bit more realistic and the gravity of the event started sinking in a bit more. But it wasn’t until I saw video footage of the bomb at the finish line going off and wounded people carrying others who were missing limbs away from the carnage. The raw, uncut footage where nothing was censored and it was like seeing everything unfold through your own eyes. That was when it really started hitting how bad things were, it almost seemed surreal.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also formed my own definition about the role of a journalist and what it means to be one. To me, it’s reporting an honest and balanced take on stories around the world. It’s giving a voice to people that don’t have one.
I feel like some people forget that Journalism isn’t all just standing in front of a camera and reading or sitting in an office writing a story. It’s going out and interviewing people from all walks of life. It’s experiencing sights and situations that no one should ever have to experience. But on top of all of that, it’s also figuring out the balance between being a journalist as an ‘observer’ and being a human.
There’s no shortage of situations where photos or footage has emerged of some disaster, or someone in imminent danger. And there’s always a mixed reaction about it. There’s people who believe that if you’re on the scene, you should be helping rather than simply recording the events. Then there’s also people that believe you couldn’t do anything anyway so you might as well record what you’re seeing and report it to the rest of the world.
I’ve never been in a situation like that, and honestly I don’t know what I’d do if I was. I like to think that if I was somewhere like a war zone and something did happen, that my natural human response would kick in and I would do whatever I could to try and help. I don’t know if I could live with myself if I watched someone die in front of me and know that I could have done something to help. But then again if I was watching from a distance and I knew that there was no realistic way that I could help, for example someone jumping from a burning building, I think my role as a Journalist would take over – I can’t help so I might as well do what I can to show the rest of the world what is happening.
Take the case of Anderson Cooper back in 2010. He was the first major news anchor on the ground and during a store looting when things spiralled out of control, he witnessed a boy be struck in the head by a rock and the resulting blood that poured out. Cooper ran into the crowd and emerged carrying the injured boy and tries to lead him towards safety. This is one of the many reasons I admire Anderson Cooper so much – despite the fact he was there as a journalist and to report on the events, he still put his duty as a human ahead of his job.
Anderson Cooper saves a child in Haiti in 2010
I’ve always been a big dreamer but I’ve also repeatedly been told to have a back up and not get my hopes up. I’ve been told not to aim too high because chances are I’m going to fail.
But there are so many inspirational journalists out there that I admire and look up to so much and I am one hundred percent sure that one day I will be out there making a difference. I’m not stupid enough to think I’m going straight into the big league and I am more than happy to work my way up through minor and so called ‘small’ stories. I know I’m going to aim high and then fall and I’m also really happy to do that.
Because I know that if I put my mind towards something, I can and I will do it. I don’t care how long it takes or how many times I fail because in the end I will get there. I’m tired of people telling kids and teenagers to go study something that will get them a job whether or not they’re passionate about it.
I’ve been so set on Journalism for years and because of that, I’ve never had a back up. I sucked at Maths and Science so a degree in Business or Engineering was out, I couldn’t (and still can’t) draw to save my life so I couldn’t do anything artistic and I had no interest in Geography or History or anything like that (I’m more of a ‘live for the moment’ kinda gal). Because I’ve never had a back up, I think it’s made me more determined to succeed knowing that if I didn’t make it into uni then I really had no hope of making my dreams come true (cheesy I know).
If you want to do something, do it. If you’re passionate about something then go for it. If you have a dream then do whatever you can to make it come true, no matter how crazy it might seem.
You are in control of your life. You get to choose what you do and where you want to go. So don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough, Because you are. And if you’re determined enough and willing to start from rock bottom then anything is possible.
P.S for a Journalism major, my typing and grammar is shocking so please excuse that. I rarely have the patience to go back and edit my blog posts.