#EIJ15 Reflections

It was but a week ago when I almost abandoned journalism completely.

My relationship with journalism as a lifestyle, my thoughts on this degree in journalism, and my projected journalism future has had its ups and downs since I became a Scripps School student last fall.

And last week, I flirted with the idea of a new major, a new college within Ohio University’s campus, a new outlook for the rest of my life. I thought I needed to define a “new me.”

But I had an obligation to fulfill first.

I went ahead with my scheduled Excellence in Journalism conference (to which I applied and got accepted in the EIJ15 newsroom last spring) and flew to Orlando, Florida, for a 5-day adventure on my own. While I was holed up in one of the largest resorts I’ve ever seen (some 450,000 sq. feet), I reported about other journalists and their reporting –– kind of a paradox, if you think about it.

I almost said no. I almost called the whole thing off. My reasoning? I don’t really want to be a journalist anymore. There was also a little bit of this, too: I have too much homework.

Needless to say, I went ahead with the trip: My plane ticket had already been paid for, the hotel room had already been booked, and arrangements had already been made. And, despite my initial reluctance, I had one of the most enriching, spontaneous, and memorable weekends of my life.

Not only did I exchange contacts with hiring managers from CNN, Hearst Media, and The Boston Globe, but I also met with, bonded with, ate with, and danced with 11 other student journalists. These EIJ interns from around the country were filled with so much passion for their work –– and for storytelling –– that I was inspired to keep working on my own craft alongside them.

We worked, and we worked A LOT. Over a 4-day period, we cranked out over 100 stories on the people, the events, and the awards of the conference. I don’t think I’ve ever been that heavily entrenched in journalism –– seeing it, writing it, living it –– in such a short time period.

I walked in thinking: I don’t really want to do this. 

I walked away thinking: I just might find a place for me in this world of journalism.

Now, this conference doesn’t change everything. I still don’t want to be a breaking news reporter. Or a television broadcaster. Or work for a daily newspaper.

But what changed was my appreciation for journalism as a craft, as a tradition, as a calling.

Never had I been exposed to so many different facets of journalism –– nuances I had yet to consider –– in one venue. And after listening to award-winning journalist Sue Porter talk about freedom for democracy and the public’s right to know, I was reminded exactly why I chose journalism. Why I still think of this profession as one to admire and to hold in the highest regard.

At the end of the day, we journalists do what we do for the good of society, for the good of free speech, free press, and free thinking.

At the end of the day, we are never truly satisfied because we know there will be more to come, more to change, more to reveal.

At the end of the day, we are storytellers –– people who look at the world and want to share it all with everyone around us.

At the end of the day, we are just trying to make the Earth a better place.

I truly believe my outlook on the future of (my) journalism has been changed for the better. Was I exposed to a particular “style” of journalism here in my short time at university that didn’t appeal to my interest? Yes, undeniably so. But that doesn’t mean my kind of journalism isn’t out there, waiting for me to claim it as my own.

So, instead of looking back on all the time I’ve “wasted” struggling to figure out who I am and who I want to be, I am now looking to the future. Here’s to believing that the best is still unknown, just waiting for me to help change the world, meet amazing people, and visit extraordinary places.

If you’ve never doubted where you are, who you’re becoming, or where it is you’re going, how can you be so sure? To doubt doesn’t display incompetence, merely self-reflection. 

This wish to become a storyteller –– not an easy feat, I’ll admit. But I firmly believe this calling is something that will remain part of my identity for the rest of my life.

This post also appears on labellamemoir.tumblr.com

Published by Bethany N. Bella

I’m a storyteller and a geographer-at-heart, and I’m passionate about connecting people and places.

%d bloggers like this: