It’s no secret that I want to be a journalist. Spend more than five minutes with me and I’ll manage to slip journalism into our conversation. But recently, a teacher asked me, “Do you really think you can spend your whole life just watching other people’s lives?”
The question is valid. But the answer, without a doubt, is YES. Here’s why.
This year will be my third as editor-in-chief of my school newspaper. Last year alone, I wrote 24 articles for that paper, and conducted at least as many interviews. What becomes clear to me, every time I interview someone new, is the impact spectating can have on the interviewee.
One of my favorite interviews is one I didn’t conduct, but presided over. Two of my staffers were profiling a teacher, and — since they were newbies at the time — I decided to go with them.
As a reporter, I get to give everyday heroes — who, more often than not, do not consider themselves heroes — a moment in the spotlight.
This particular teacher was, at the time of the interview, receiving chemotherapy treatments on a regular basis — and still coming to work. She’d leave class early to meet her appointments, and then come in the next day. To me, this was inspiring. It seemed almost objective to declare she was a strong woman.
When I told her that, she waved away my compliment. There wasn’t anything special about her — she was just doing what she had to do.
She said, and this is quoted in the profile my staffer wrote up, “The reason I’m so open about this is that … [cancer] is something that happens to a lot of people. To be able to say that it’s okay, people do survive, people do live with it, and people do actually go on.”
Profiling this teacher gave her a chance to tell her story and receive some well-deserved recognition. It’s moments like these that validate my conviction to pursue journalism. As a reporter, I get to give everyday heroes — who, more often than not, do not consider themselves heroes — a moment in the spotlight. People don’t see their worth until they’re given an opportunity to articulate their stories.
The war correspondent Janine di Giovanni, in a TED Talk about her career, said, “All I am is a witness. My role is to bring a voice to people who are voiceless.” This is a particularly fitting description. Yes, I do spectate, but what comes out of the spectating is what journalism is really about — serving as a megaphone for the ‘voiceless.’
That’s why I’m happy to pursue a career in spectating.