Every day I read the headlines. People all over the world are grieving, fighting, protesting. Every day I comb through headlines about tragedy and injustice -children missing, racist acts, ongoing wars. I am new to the journalism industry and it’s common knowledge that many journalists deal with the evening news by numbing themselves. After all, there are only so many gunshots we can read about and personally feel the impact of the words.
When I started out in this business, I wanted to write about people. I wanted to tell you all about the cab driver from Mumbai who recently lost his job in this economic climate. I wanted to paint a picture of the homeless man in Washington Square Park who built castles out of matches. I wanted to share their stories.
And then I entered a television newsroom where I was surrounded by voices all day, and sometimes amidst the anchors reading teleprompters and the producers hustling on the phones, I forget why I’m here.
I was working a weekend shift when the phone rang. A woman told me her name. She was a relative of an unarmed African American man who had been shot and killed by a police officer on a California subway. She was in tears as she thanked me for our coverage of the incident. “We don’t have a lot of money,” she said. “We don’t have many resources, and so many people ignored the story. Now it’s finally getting the attention it deserved.”
I hung up the phone and remembered everything I love about this industry. I believe in the power of journalism to share peoples’ stories. I will never lose my fascination with people, and I certainly hope I remain in an environment that caters my curiosity. A producer once told me, “You’re never off the job. Part of you’re job is to talk to people. Hear their stories”
I believe in the power of words to bring about change and compassion, and even during the most intense breaking news situations, there is still that thread of humanity. When the plane went down over the Hudson, the head of the newsroom sent out a mass email outlining the logistics of the coverage. And at the bottom, a quick line, she added –“And let’s be thankful everyone made it out ok.”
It’s that bit of humanity and respect for people that gets me out of bed at 5am for my shift, and it’s the stories I read, those voices I hear, and the impact of words that make me believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.