Don’t dream it, be it

“Journalism is dying/journalism is hard/you’re not going to make any money/why do you do it?”

Like every journalism student, I frequently get these remarks from my friends and I often wonder exactly why I’m pursuing journalism. I’ve always loved writing, but am I sure about reporting? Journalism is a demanding field. As I mentioned before, I am terrified of burnout that I can already feel lurking around me. I’m tired. Sometimes, particularly in the moments I’m working on multiple stories and have five interviews in a week and a draft due tomorrow and an hour long interview to transcribe etc etc etc, I question if this is what I should be doing.

Then you find a story that reminds you why you chose to go to the first and best journalism school in the world.

Getting to know Mark Chambers, who has been religiously emceeing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for 36 years, was the most fun I’ve had while reporting in a long time and I’m so happy with how it turned out. Mark was so nice and so hilarious and it was a joy to get to work with him.

When I arrived at the “Rocky Horror” showing Thursday, Mark was in the front lobby and pulled me past the line into the theater and said, “Ma’am, I just have to say, I’ve been interviewed a lot, but this is just a whole other side of Rocky that people don’t get to see.” He told me that the interviews I did with him were the best he has ever had, thanked me for telling his story, and gave me a hug.

This. This is why I want to be a journalist. I love getting to know nice people and talking to them about the things they’re passionate about. I love telling people’s stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told.

After the story and Beatriz’s video were published yesterday morning, Mark sent me a text message thanking me again, saying that the story and video would be “treasures” to him for the rest of his days, and that he was almost in tears by the end of it.

Making Mark happy made me feel so good, and reinforced that journalism, particularly narrative features, is what I’m meant to do.

Read the story here

Women in media, sexism and the threat of burnout

I was never really interested in women’s issues and feminism until I entered college. I thought I’d been fortunate in my life and thought I had never experienced sexism or discrimination based on my gender. But as I spent more time in college I began realizing little ways in how I was being treated differently because I am female — the catcalls I’d receive when driving in my convertible, the men on the street who would tell me to smile, the older men (often residing in positions of authority or who were sources I was interviewing) who would call me “a nice, local girl,” when they learned that I’m from Missouri.

Before college, I never thought of myself as a feminist. I thought sexism was largely a thing of the past and I wasn’t interested in the topic. Now, I go on tangents about women’s issues and the patriarchy and male gaze. I listen to Beyoncé’s “Flawless” at least once a week on full volume and have a Rosie the Riveter poster hanging in my room. Last night I was watching “National Treasure” with my roommates (don’t judge) and it bothered me that someone like Diane Kruger was cast as Nicholas’ Cage’s love interest — because, really, when would that ever happen?

Today I went to the Women in Media panel as part of the Missouri Honor Medal celebrations and classes. I was immediately interested in the topic and as soon as I heard that Jacqui Banaszynski was the moderator, aka a goddess badass journalist and everything I want to be, I made the decision to skip my Ancient Western Philosophy class and go.

Jacqui immediately threw out a statistic that terrified me — she said, about 70 percent of journalism students are women, but there are only about 25 percent of women in newsrooms.

So, what happened to all the women?

The answers vary. Sexism, internet trolls, and the demands of the job tend to drive women away. The panelists talked a lot about how journalism isn’t a regular, nine-to-five job. “Journalism is your life,” they said, and that demand is hard on a lot of women.

Burn-out is something that worries me. I can see how women are especially affected, since many women want to have families and it can be difficult to be married and have children while you’re working a job as demanding and unpredictable as journalism. Personally, I don’t know if I want to get married and have kids, but one thing I have always been adamant about is that I refuse to let a job rule my life. I don’t want journalism to be the main focus of my life. And sometimes it worries me that it will be.

A fellow student asked the question that has been burning in my mind for the last year — when your career is affecting your personal life in a negative way, what can you do?

The answer: “Cry and drink.”

Tbh that’s how I coped with the stress of journalism and personal issues all last year, and I can’t say it worked out well for me. Yes, journalism is a hard job, but I think that I and other women can find that balance. (Insert obnoxious: “Can women have it all?” question. What the heck is “IT”?).