Authenticity, Fitting in, and Breaking Rules

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This is what I am working through lately: how to stay true to myself.

But it’s not in the way you might think.

I study journalism. It has been a long journey from english literature to hard news, from university to college, but I’m in the right place now.

The funny thing is that as much as I know I’m in the right space, I still wrestle with fitting in. When I tell people I’m in a journalism program, I often get asked if I want to be an anchor or a reporter. The answer is no. The more I learn about this field, the less I want to be that kind of journalist.

That’s where the wrestling comes in. There’s a place for anchors and reporters and hard news that sticks to the basic facts. However, that isn’t me. I am discovering that I like learning the rules of this industry so I can break them later.

Personally, I think that a journalist’s job is to make people care and to make people think. It’s our job to inform you. I also just broke a rule that they teach you pretty much the first day in journalism school: do not insert your opinion into your stories. In fact, do not appear in your stories at all (unless it is an opinion piece).

Granted, this rule is changing a bit. “Journalism” is really becoming a grey area to me because, ironically, everyone seems to have a different opinion about what real journalism is allowed to be. It is really frustrating to me and, honestly, I’ve boiled it down to one rule in my head:

Tell the truth.

Beyond that, how I craft the story to make that truth really connect with a reader or viewer is up to me as the journalist.

When I was little I refused to watch the news because it was all very scary and depressing and it gave me nightmares. If you told me back then that I would grow up to study journalism, that would have given me nightmares too.

But here I am.

And I’m struggling with this: I have no desire to work for a newspaper or a broadcasting network of any kind, but I care so deeply about telling stories accurately, creatively, and authentically.

There are two things that I’m currently figuring out with this: platform, and then that little problem of making an actual living at some point.

Basically, I’m trying to get a clear picture of what I stand for, the direction I want to go with my writing, and how to make that happen.

I’m going to be honest and say that the next few months might look like a bit of a mess over here. I’m going to try to make it an interesting, truthful mess, but it still might be a bit all over the place while I figure out my rhythm.

In full disclosure: for school, we were supposed to make blogs to brand ourselves as journalists. I used this blog, wrote some posts for the class, and then deleted them all after I got my marks back. They weren’t true to who I am as a writer and, frankly, they were pretty boring.

I’m going to keep being honest over here. That honesty might take the form of a vlog or a book review or a written story or a photo essay along with normal blog posts, but I’m going to focus on staying as true as I can be to myself as a writer.

Because, ultimately, I’m a writer at heart.

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