Writing Update: On My Gentle Return to Journalism
I wouldn't have guessed it would end up this way.
A little more than five years ago, I decided to take a semester-long break from my graduate journalism program at NYU. Over that semester, and the one after when I failed to return to school, and the one after even that one, I began to have a harsh realization: I wasn't going to make it back. The day wouldn't come that I would walk through the journalism center's doors again as a student. Worse, it dawned on me that I wouldn't return not just because of the financial burden and my mental health issues, but because, well, I wasn't sure I was cut out for journalism.
At least not the way I thought I had to do it to stay in New York.
You see, I like local journalism. I enjoyed and, I think, thrived in my internships at small-town newspapers in college. I loved waking up in the morning not knowing if I'd be covering a library board meeting, interviewing the mayor about a new playground installation, or trekking out to a college campus to write about a high school arts program heading overseas for the summer.
I flourished in local journalism. And I adored New York (still do), and didn't know how to make the two dreams coincide. I thought to be a journalist in the city, you had to work for a national network, bustling from taking down a sleazy politician to uncovering a controversy in a public school to filming the aftermath of a tragedy to...
The journalism I like, the journalism that fills my soul, is the kind that you like. The kind that brings a smile to the reader's face; the kind I started practicing on my blog in 2016, interviewing authors.
Those author interviews were a perfect combination of being able to do reporting and on writing stories that would make others happy.
This is such a long intro to a blog post, wow.
All the above to say! That I'm gently re-entering the waters of journalism and holy crap, I love it?? It brings me joy, and it's local, and it allows me to make others happy, and I'm getting paid to do it?
I've been writing for the local news app NewsBreak, covering all sorts of Brooklyn and greater NYC metro area stories every week.
I've traveled from Brooklyn to Manhattan and Queens and back again. I've emailed or Instagram messaged countless businesses and nonprofits and random people I think are cool, all to say, "Hey, can I write about you and the awesome work you're doing?"
Through my writing, I hope I've made people feel proud. I hope I've allowed them to see themselves through someone else's eyes and remember why they're amazing for what they're doing. Importantly, I hope maybe I've introduced someone new to that work.
That's my goal.
I'll be the first to tell you how important it is to invest in investigative journalism, to pay for and hire and support writers who can ask tough questions and dig deep to the truth, no matter how painful it is to get there. I'm never going to stop believing in the world-altering importance of good journalism.
But I also don't kid myself into thinking that, at least now, I am interested in pursuing that myself. Never say never, as the Biebs sang and all, but for now I'm content.
I know I have growing to do as a journalist, and maybe the day will come that I can do more hard-hitting reporting. If so, I'll embrace that when it comes like I've embraced this. In the meantime, though, let's keep on keeping on.
It's been a good lesson, I think. I like reading investigative journalism, I like knowing what's out there; but that doesn't mean I have the skills and gumption currently to do it.
It's the same with many other forms of writing. I love to read epic fantasy, but am I there yet as a writer? Lol, no. Someday, maybe.
But not today. And that's okay.