By Kelsi Peace, Managing Editor
One. Two. Three. Send.
This ritual precedes the hard phone calls I sometimes have to make as a journalist. Sometimes I count for the source I know won’t be happy to hear from me, but more often count for the source whose story will be hard for them to tell.
This week, I wrote a memoir for Aaron Fry, a student who was killed in a motorcycle accident, and although I talked to several of Aaron’s friends, making the phone calls never got any easier.
Those heart-wrenching interviews are a perfect illustration of why I believe in journalism. I don’t buy the ready excuse that the media is at the root of so many of our cultural problems, nor do I understand people who refuse to talk to the media because they think journalists are out there merely looking to dig up hurtful scandals.
Granted, there are some out there, but aren’t there a few bad eggs in every profession?
A good journalist possesses power to perpetuate change. He-or she-is the perfect stranger who becomes a part of the family as they remember a loved one with tears and laughter. Or who offers a voice to the citizen whose problem is being trampled beneath a slew of legislation or louder voices. A journalist has access to people and places others don’t-and it is more than a job to ask the hard questions, it is an obligation-even if it means a few slammed doors or resounding dial tones.
And while students may think they don’t care about news or don’t have the time to care, one must remember students’ avid dedication to Facebook.com and its news feed or mankind’s timeless love of gossip and admit that we’ve always loved news when it’s been about people.
Ultimately, that’s what journalism is about-telling the truth about people and to people and nothing more. Today, it may come in the form of an RSS feed, a video clip, a multi-media presentation or a newspaper article.
The modern packaging doesn’t change the message or its intent.
So look to the videos, photographs and Internet packages you’ll find coming from the student media this year as just another way for us to tell your stories and work with traditional news media like the print Optimist.
Even within constant news and citizen journalism, the field is about truth-telling and empowering people with knowledge. This constant thirst for immediate and breaking news doesn’t mean journalists have to be heartless or needlessly aggressive.
The day I don’t get a little teary when people share stories of a lost loved one, or I feel a little outraged when I hear about an injustice is the day I need to quit. You can’t write about humanity if you’re not acting like a human.