I remember sitting in my sixth grade health class one afternoon. The assignment: write a short paper on what you wanted to be when you grew up. I immediately began scribbling down all of the reasons why I wanted to be a journalist:
- They’re (spelt their/there at the time most likely) like detectives, but cooler
- They’re good writers, and I love writing
- They’re smart
- They’re good people
Middle school ended, but my passion for journalism remained. I joined the paper, learned layout and editing, and eventually I made it to Gordon College to study four years of what I had hoped would be the rest of my life.
It was rocky at first; there were only two journalism classes in the communications major, but I learned to cope. I did freelance work for the school paper, The Tartan, and did some really amazing stories for The Salem Gazette and The Gloucester Times (and plug for my other blog stories here –> https://jessesjamees.wordpress.com). Nothing was going to stand between my Pulitzer and me.
Then President Lindsay signed the religious exemption letter. Biggest shit to hit the fan this summer, at least on the micro-first-world-problem level, so obviously people were going to make Facebook statuses about it. And the local paper had to do a cover on it, it would be dumb not to. But then the Boston Globe picked it up. All of a sudden Gordon’s name was on Buzzfeed and petitions were coming from every website. Suddenly, all the world was talking about was this letter.
But hey, with news sources talking about this then we can have some real dialogue. So, why is everyone mad at Gordon? Why are we only hearing from those fighting against the school? Where is Lindsay? Or the cabinet?
My sophomore year I read The Elements of Journalism for class. It was almost like the Ten Commandments, but for the news; everything journalism was supposed to be, everything I dreamed it would be.
Element #2: Journalism’s first loyalty is to citizens
Element #6: Journalism must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
A voice to the voiceless; this has been my drive every since I learned the good that journalism can do. I’ve seen it, how one story can liberate the oppressed or give hope to those who never thought hope was possible. But I don’t see that anymore. I see the oppressor becoming the oppressed, and the oppressed showing no sympathy in the role reversal. I see the watchdog turning its back to this and caring more about circulation and revenue.
I used to be afraid of journalism being exploitive; that I would have to use people, build fake relationships, just to get a story. Now, after seeing how the news has reacted to Gordon, that doesn’t even seem wrong. Now, I’m more afraid of taking someone’s voice away to give it to someone else.
Who do I blame? Who knows. Every story has a voice defending Lindsay, in some way or another, but I don’t see an even playing field. I see the same, recycled excuses from Gordon and more and more voices against the school’s beliefs. Why has the Life and Conduct Statement not been mentioned other than a requirement for students to sign? I have so many questions that I expected to be answers in these articles, but they weren’t.
I vowed to give a voice to the voiceless, and I refuse to give that up. But I also refuse to enter a world and fight for equality when there’s a catch around every corner.
Journalist are good people want to be good people, but sometimes forget
Things change. Maybe it’s the world of journalism or maybe it’s me. All I know is I’m not sure if that world is for me anymore.