These past few weeks have been a whirlwind.
My story that I’ve been working on all semester about after-school programs helping low-income students in Columbia ran online and was in print last week. It’s really, really, really satisfying to see my work manifested in the paper and online.
I’m not even asking for an avalanche of views on this story. I’m being totally realistic about that. But what I do hope for is to make just a few people happy. But in any case, it’s been a really cathartic process. And I’ve also learned a lot, about reporting, about low-income education, and about myself.
I think I’ve taken some solid baby steps in my first project.
I’ve also really got to thank the other people involved with my story: My editor Liz, of course; Nick with photography; Nicole, Sam and Amanda with graphics; and a sprinkling of other people. These people really pulled my story together. Reporting’s important. But the other things that go into a story are equally important, and I don’t think we emphasize it enough. The main graphic in the story combined scores and percentages of a national test that gauges academic achievement and analyzes the results. The original graphic was good, but after adding new information, it really stood out.
I’m very proud of the story. It took a long time, and sometimes it was frustrating and I really wanted to give up. But I’m glad I stuck with it because, honestly, why would I have given it up? It’s what I love. And it’s good experience and a good way for me to hone my projects style. I think I’m going to want to be doing more long-term reporting that takes a little more heavy lifting. But as I get to that point, I know I’m going to need help. I’m taking intermediate writing in the fall, and I’m planning on taking investigative reporting at some point. I’m also taking a great intensive interviewing class as well.
There was a story written by Katy Bergen that published this week — and once I read it, I was flabbergasted. It was a beautiful article. Very detailed, very narrative, but it showed an importance to an issue that could have been easily lost in the tides of narration. It’s really the kind of work that I admire and I really emulate. She did a great job.
As for me, I’m not really sure how to reflect on this semester and look toward the future. This isn’t a bad thing. I guess I’ve just gotten to the point where I’ve done and experienced so much that I am finding myself slipping into a more transitional mindset. I can feel my interests and my pursuits changing, but I can’t really pin it down. I’ve received a wonderful internship opportunity at C-SPAN for the summer that I’ve been constantly thinking about ever since February. I was assigned to the Special Projects section, which is essentially C-SPAN’s longer term investigative, research-based projects. I find myself developing a liking for these longer projects, and this summer is going to provide the perfect foot-in-the-door opportunity for me. I just want to soak in everything while I’m there. I want to absorb, learn. And dressing professionally doesn’t hurt either.
I can’t lie to myself. I’m incredibly nervous about this summer. But I also have this knot in my stomach that I can’t really seem to untie. I’m not sure where it’s coming from. Maybe it’s the barrage of responsibilities I have towards the end of the semester. Or the fact that I’m trying to fight a psychological (and physiological) fatigue that comes with the downward curve of every semester. Or the fact that I’m really excited to see my family … but also very sad to leave Columbia for so long.
It’s just a balancing act. When I get into despondent moods, it’s usually not hard for me to come out of them. And having people around me who care really help. I’m a very happy person. In fact, I strive to be positive. But the weight of the world and the weight of my heart and what it wants can be very taxing.
I just need to push through, study, be with people I love, write, read, and do everything I usually do. And I know I can do it. Gotta channel my inner engine-that-could.