The reporter and the reported

Today in class, we talked about the big elephant in the room of journalism: ethics.

It was a pretty interesting conversation, and it really did surprise me thinking about how often journalists run into ethical dilemmas.

I won’t describe the exact dilemma we were discussing, but basically, a reporter had to decide whether or not to err on the side of their source or their editor. The source didn’t want a story published for a week for a certain reason, but the editor wanted it published that night. It was a long conversation that followed suit – should she have pushed back against the editor? Should a reporter automatically trust a source?, etc – and I really thought about it afterward.

The main point I took out from this whole conversation was the idea of trust and how elusive trust can be within the reporter-source relationship. Sometimes the source doesn’t want you to publish something (or a whole article, for that matter), and this could be done out of good intentions or bad intentions. Sometimes the source wants you to do the complete opposite: publish, publish, publish!

But, in a class I took last semester, I remember perking up about a sentence my professor said: “You can never tell anyone’s intentions ever about anything.”

If you think about it, it’s true. You can’t tell anyone’s intentions. This veil that conceals everyone’s actions is particularly apparent when a reporter is talking to a source, and understandably so. The reporter is coming into the situation with a goal (an article) and the source is coming into the situation with a different goal (their voice, opinion, makeshift personal PR campaign, etc.). This is complicated when both reporter and source play the status game: the reporter is asserting his or her role as the tough but empathetic questioner, and the source is playing a marionette game with the things he or she decides to tell the reporter.

It can be incredibly exhausting. Thinking about it certainly doesn’t help, either!

I’m writing this post because I was actually doing something totally different from journalism – trying to find the former Gen. Petraeus’ Army counterinsurgency release – that lead me to an interesting website. This website provided the link to the old counterinsurgency release, and it was obvious that this person who owned the site was a severely distrusting, left-leaning, anti-government citizen.

Of course, using this website as a reliable source would hardly be a good idea. But there was one great point this website owner said as a disclaimer below the release’s .pdf link. He told the viewer to make sure to remember that while this document was easily accessible, this accessibility is questionable itself. He was basically saying that because this document was public, it was a subtle shot at publicity for the Army. He also said that he’d prefer to have the military do its bidding and finish its jobs privately, instead of pulling in the public with a cheap shot at PR in its public releases.

(Now, I’m not saying big huge companies and big players like the Army should keep documents private. I’m not. I’m just saying he made an interesting point.)

I mean, think about it. This guy makes a good point. Any large entity that knowingly releases a document, series of documents or even a mere press release has some intentions that aren’t going to be stated in said document. Even if said entity releases documents after pressure, you must admit that some conversations had to happen to make sure it was okay and that ultimately wouldn’t ruin everything. Of course, I’ve never pressured anyone for sensitive documents – so maybe I’m out of my element there.

But anyway.

Any other source could very much do the same thing – using his or her knowledge and documents as a bargaining chip. Perhaps making a poker reference is too cynical. But, in a way, the conversation between reporter and source is a game – a game within which both sides must play.

In the discussion today, it seemed that some people perceived this source to be malicious in his request to have the article not be published yet. Others thought it was a rightful use of privacy. I’m not sure which one is right. Maybe elements of both are.

Maybe he did want to control the media. Maybe he did just want to keep his private affairs under wraps.

His intentions are unknown. So are everyone else’s.

Reading intentions is impossible – literally – but hopefully there’s a way to counter the “game” we play with sources. Personally, I’m a little too trusting. But some of my counterparts can be too skeptical.

I’m not quite sure when is the right time to push the skeptical card, and when is the right time to trust your gut and your source.

I’m sure that’s a problem that professional journalists have too. Does it get easier? That’d be something I’d like to know.

For once, I don’t have a beautiful sum-up sentence for a post. It’s an issue that leaves me conflicted. Hopefully over time I will learn to deal with it with more elegance than edginess.


Back in the saddle

The first step is to admit that you have a problem.

Okay. I have a problem. I have been neglecting this blog. I feel awful.


Moving on.

I’m back at the Missourian for the enterprise beat for the Spring 2013 semester. It’s going to be a change from education, and I’m going to have to take a lot of initiative and keep my often spacey and conceptual ideas reined in. I’m going to need to make these ideas tangible and tactile and identifiable. I had a very successful first couple talks with my editor, and I’ve been doing some preliminary research for some topics I’d like to cover.

I came to enterprise because it was my other top choice when I was applying for beats for the first time last year, but also because I wanted a chance to branch out in my experience with the newspaper.

It’s a new year, and I’m already slacking on some resolutions. But the newspaper is different. I had a variety of experiences late last year that hit me pretty hard, and I think my work showed it. But I’m not one to wallow, and I’ve come back from last year with little more than a few mental bruises. But now is not the time for mental bruises. And now I just looked up ways to make bruises better, and the solutions vary from an ice pack to acetaminophen to parsley to pineapple to leeches (yes, leeches).

Alas, 2013 feels like it’s going to make itself into a nice amalgamation of parsley and leeches to turn my bruises into little tea lights. (I’m not making any sense. The tea lights come from a class exercise where I said the lights represented positivity and finding the motivational light within ourselves.)

I’m really good at metaphors, right?

Anyway. I truly am excited to be back. I wasn’t sure where I was at the end of spring semester, and honestly, I wasn’t sure where I was in December. But it feels good to be back working within the strangely comforting seafoam-teal-green walls of the Missourian. I was nervous coming back. But it subsided very quickly, and everyone, as always, has been supportive and accepting. I got that feeling from the very first time I walked into the paper. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe, but it’s certainly there. Maybe it’s comfort, maybe it’s nerves, maybe it’s just a feeling that is telling me that I am back in the right place. I’m back in the place that was always the right place for me to me. Now it’s my time, again, to take up the reins and get back onto the road and see what’s ahead for me for the next few months.

(I post this as I just realize how many horse references I’ve made in this post. Whoops…there’s that bad metaphor thing again.)


A few words

I’m sitting in the newsroom right now, with too much hummus, not enough pita and a self-induced headache. I’ve got Frank Sinatra to assuage me with his crooning, though, so I think I might be able to make it through the next 24 hours at least breathing.

With the weight of my last two finals, my pestering academic lethargy and gleeful ignorance of what I need to do in the next couple days, I’ve found a cruel beast forming, a combination headache and perceived mental breakdown. I’m only kidding. Partially.

The end is definitely nigh.

I feel very overwhelmed right now (“Estoy muy abrogada” in Spanish. My friend taught me and I’ve said it an annoying amount of times since…). I’m not entirely sure why, though. I know my school subjects really well, and I’ve been studying feverishly for the past few days. I understand what I’m reading, but sometimes I feel like I just can’t make the connections mentally. I feel like I’m in a daze. Maybe it’s my body’s response to transitioning from hyper mode to the smoother flow of summer. Although, I won’t be unoccupied this summer. Rather, I’ll be busier than ever. So that can’t be it.

I’m not really sure how to respond to the semester. But I should start off with the fact that I have met some of the most amazing people I have in a while. Last semester, I got really involved in climbing, and unfortunately, that hobby fell by the wayside this semester. But I’ve realized which people really do care about me and understand what I’m going through. And even more importantly, I have met people who can sympathize with me and my often insatiable drive.

Whenever I’m in an interview and someone asks the question, “What’s one of your biggest flaws?” (Which, by the way, is totally overused. I don’t even know how effective it is. I mean, what about, “What’s your favorite color?” or “If you were an animal, which would you be?” Kidding, again. But you’d be surprised where those questions can lead. Just sayin’.), I always say “overambitious.”

I used to say that because honestly, it was the first thing that came to me. But I’ve realized over time that it really is the truth, and it’s really something that I’ve struggled with. I’ve struggled with finding people who understand having such an innate drive, being drawn so intimately to a goal and a passion that I have felt. But I’ve met people who, while they don’t know exactly what they want to do, have a sense of passion. I always wanted to want something before I found journalism. I wanted to feel something. But I never really did, and I was around people who were relatively apathetic. That didn’t help.

But ever since I’ve been in college — and, to be fair, I know some very passionate people I’m still close with from Orlando — I’ve met those people who really know that feeling of heat, of stimulus. And it’s not what they want that’s so important, in my perspective. It’s just the fact that this feeling is there that I understand that everything I’m doing is worth it. That I’m not the only one.

When I first saw photos by the photojournalist Robert Capa of the Spanish Civil War in an exhibit in New York City in the turbulence of preteenhood, I felt something that I hadn’t before. I looked at his photos, and something churned inside of me. Before, I’d done a lot of activities — taekwondo, ballet, art — but I never really felt anything deep for them other than the routine that comes along with a hobby. It was frustrating. I felt like I would only do things for a short time, then quit. That’s the way it always was.

But it felt different this time. I knew I wanted to do the same thing. Capa told me a story through his photos; he brought me to a more pensive level than ever. I felt a new regard for humanity.

I later realized that I really excelled in writing. I think my photos are good, but I think that’ll always be secondary to me. But I knew I wanted to do journalism. And I’ve never faltered since. Now, there have been moments where I’m completely exasperated and tired and blue. But when I sit down to put together that day turn, or write that fifth draft of a story, I get this subtle stir inside of me that keeps me going. I may get frustrated, and I may want to quit at times. But that core feeling always comes around, and I hope it doesn’t stop.

Journalism is many things, but for me, I’ve learned that at its most basic core, it serves as a medium of person to person. We scatter ourselves across the world (or across Columbia, in my case) and talk to people, learn things and relay them to other people in the most concise, interesting and straightforward way that we can. It’s a big responsibility. I definitely have a lot to change, and to perfect. But I’ve already learned so much, and I think I’ve truly come to the right place.

Now, there are definitely things that I would have changed about this semester. I can’t see everything in rosy tones, and that’s something I’ve learned has (unfortunately) become a handicap in the way I perceive stories. I have learned that I forgive too much. I am too averse to conflict. I’m very confident, but oftentimes I don’t stick up for myself completely. I’m too scatter-brained. But I think I can use these things to my advantage, and it’s just a matter of figuring out how to do that. Keep my strong core intact, but understand that it might change shape. I need to figure out how to balance my strong, assertive nature and my acquiescent nature.

I have been seeing the wheels turning for a while within me. And this semester has definitely contributed to that.

And now I’m going to be moving on to a fantastic summer. I’ll be coming back to the Missourian at some point, of course, but for now, I feel the tendrils of my life stretching to other places. It’s that wanderlust, that feeling of the unknown vastness of what’s to come, that excites me.

The Missourian has really transformed me. I’m not sure I can describe it in words quite yet. But I’m definitely a different person. And change is always a part of me. I’m a rootless person. I’m a wandering person. But I feel like the constant pull of journalism is keeping me on track and opening doors up for me at the very same time.

Onward and upward, right?

Life lessons at the Missourian

So, I’ve learned a lot of lessons at the paper since the beginning of the semester. Some I’ve written down, others I haven’t. But these are the ones I thought of immediately. Most likely I’ll add more, knowing my memory.

But it’s true that I’ve learned so much. Maybe more, journalistically, than any other semester. I’ll have more time in the fall to focus on academics, but I really enjoyed the unique experience I got at the newspaper. There’s nothing really to compare it to.

I’m also keeping these here as a record for myself. I’m writing all of these lessons down, but by no means have I mastered everything. I need to constantly reflect on my work. And that’s what this is for.

What I learned:

1. Don’t be afraid to just pick up the phone and call.

2. But when you do call, have questions prepared. Try to gauge where the conversation may go

3. Know your sources. Know how to address them.

  • Do you say “Dr.” or just call them by their first name? I’ve found that this really does kind of change the mood and the perception of the reporter and the source.

4. Don’t bark up the wrong tree. Bark up all the trees. Call everyone who can be relevant.

  • This is what my editor told me during an editing session for my story on the after-school programs. I just loved it. I had been focusing on one source that I really wanted to talk to, but I had completely overlooked contacting a very basic person who could have given me an explanation without the goose chase I found myself in.

5. Corrections suck. But they help you learn.

6. Don’t bottle up emotions.

7. Follow your gut.

8. Use the snail. Think creatively about your sources.

  • One of my stories totally transformed from what it was going to originally be when I talked to a source I came to after being unsuccessful in contacting the main source. It was really interesting to see a fledgling story come from a tiny little GA story.

9. You’ll never know where news will go or where it will come from. You can’t predict it. But you should always be ready for it.

  • Another story I wrote was about a local Columbia man who was elected to the school board. Everyone was in awe (happily) about his election, and there wasn’t even going to be a watch party for the election results until the night before when I spoke to him. I’m glad I was there to witness the unfolding events. Unexpected news can be some of the best.

10. Don’t pigeonhole yourself.

  • I got to cover a lot of different topics during this semester. Yes, I got to know the school board and its meetings pretty well and I learned quite a bit about lower-income students in Columbia, which is actually one of the reasons why I came to the education beat. But I also got to cover crime. I wrote some really fun profiles — a storyteller, a jazz musician, a school principal. A lot of these were GA stories. Some were more geared toward education. But I got to expand my reporting skills. No lesson in journalism is really better than being confused in a courtroom or chasing down sources on a topic you’ve just taught yourself.

11. Appreciate your colleagues.

  • I mean, I can’t say much anything more than that. My fellow beat reporters — and the rest of the reporters and editors at the paper — are really what kept me going through the semester. Allie’s my sunbeam. Breanna makes me laugh. Zach’s my bro. Ratko was the best Shieldcroc I’ve ever known. (Just a few examples)

12. Be open-minded.

  • Journalism is a way to peek into humanity. Interviews are the peephole: let them be conversations (I know interviews are inherently non-conversational. But I think they can get pretty close.) Stay open to what people say and what direction the conversation is going.

13. Become okay with the fact that your inner journalist is always turned on. Embrace it, actually.

14. Respect the photo and graphics departments. They really pull our stuff together, and I think we as reporters can get too single-minded.

15. Respect the draft.

16. Be self-critical. Don’t be afraid to shorten your work. Don’t be afraid when others do it, either. Don’t take it personally.

17. Do your research beforehand. Read clips.

18. But if there’s something you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask basic questions. It feels really dumb. But I still really struggle with this, for some reason. Pride can be a nasty thing.

19. Always start with the scales. Mozart can come later.

  • Another one taken from my editor. I suffer from the debilitating complex of writing way too much, way too eloquently. Particularly when I could write the same thing in about 10 words. I’ve gotten a lot better at it, and I think I can attribute that to my GA pieces and the school board coverage I’ve been a part of.

But there are things that, looking back (everyone knows that hindsight’s 20/20), I would have given more attention to. And maybe these are things that I can’t fix in a semester. Maybe they’re long-term changes I need to make. But this semester did open my eyes to not only the lessons I’ve learned and the accomplishments I’ve achieved, but also my flaws.

Learning from experience has this beautiful way of revealing how you act in raw situations. There’s really no other way to learn, at least in a profession like this.

People say that the Missouri method is just diffusion of responsibility, or less eloquently, laziness. But I don’t think it’s that. It’s putting responsibility into our hands (which is something we complain even MORE about not having), and it’s nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. Yes, we make mistakes. We write great stories, too. We meet great people, including each other. But everything I’ve learned this semester that has really struck me has almost always come from things I’ve done and the situations I’ve been in. And some of these lessons I’ve learned from the people around me, as well, including my editor and the other reporters around me.

There were times when I was really disheartened. I got a testy at some points. But I really had people pull me through who encouraged me to keep pushing. I’ve still got a week left, so there’s always room for more events and news. I’ve learned that much.

It’s been a wonderful ride. I’ll miss being at the newspaper all the time and having a place like that to just go to when I had free time. I’ll miss having so many kindred spirits around me constantly. And I’ll definitely miss the parking tickets I’ve gotten and the mountain of coins I’ve pumped through the meters over these past few months (just kidding). But it really is a great place to be. I learned lessons. I made mistakes. But it’s all part of the greater experience.

If you try, you can flourish at the Missourian. I hope I can get to that point through my tenure as a reporter here.

And I won’t be there for the fall. But I’ll still be around. And I’ll be back, soon enough!

Wall Street Journal: “War Torn: An Iraq War Veteran’s Story”


You know, PTSD, yeah, it sucks and it limits my life and it stops me from going out and enjoying certain things. But I want to go back so bad. It broke my heart that I got out the Marine Corps, that I was medically discharged. It broke my heart.

– Ian Welch




Michael M. Phillips

Photos, Audio, Video: 

Brandon Thibodeaux

Update: On the student paper resignations

(Note: I did work at The Maneater. But this is an unbiased — as actively and consciously unbiased as possible — post about the recent events there and across the country. I write this as a student journalist, because I think it’s too important not to write about and is a good way to open up discourse and transparency within our journalism here.)

I’m taking a break from my writing to post something about the recent developments for college newspapers.

There’s been a surge in student newspaper resignations across the country stemming from reasons including inaccurate information, misleading information and more recently, inappropriate humor. There was the resignation at The Daily Free Press because of the paper’s disregard over the impact of their April Fool’s edition that trivialized rape especially after several related events had occurred earlier in the year. There was the resignation of an editor at The Daily Iowan. A while ago, there was the resignation of the managing editor at Onward State for a faulty tweet. Now, the razing of the Maneater’s April Fool’s edition that had an inappropriate LGBTQ slur as the masthead as well as other offensive remarks throughout the issue has wreaked havoc within the newsroom.

What does this all mean?

There’s a lot behind it. Perhaps a lack of oversight at the papers, perhaps ignorance, perhaps a tendency to post information as soon as possible — without verification.

The thing with the Maneater debacle is that this apology letter shouldn’t have been written in the first place. What should have happened was a re-assessment of the impact of an April Fool’s Day issue of the newspaper. There should have been a better thought process by the few people involved in the error. I’ve spoken to many of my friends about this. There are plenty of ways to be humorous — even searing — without resorting to lowly derogatory comments. Just because they’re young and hip, doesn’t mean they had to go full-blown Adult Swim on the front cover of the newspaper.  We don’t have to degrade ourselves to meet some unwritten standard of humor. A newspaper is a newspaper. Although our definition of journalism is changing, our adherence to its values should not.

Call me a grandma, but I just simply can’t get behind the idea of an April Fool’s issue. What’s the point? I understand, it’s funny. But do something else. Make a comedy section. Heck, make an entirely separate comedic news source. But once you blur the lines between what is news and what is satire, especially when the newspaper itself is wrapped literally in this farce, how can you expect readers to differentiate between it themselves?

And let’s just focus on one word — “newspaper.” This was an ‘egregious’ error not only because was it just poorly thought out (or not thought out), but because it breaks the basic rules of what we as young journalists are learning and striving for, those rules that are instilled into us every week in Gannett and Lee Hills: fact-checking, context, proportionality, truth, awareness of our readers, devotion to our readers, fairness. If we digress from our own rules, then it will only become easier for the public to become skeptical about our role.

I’m not writing this post to attack The Maneater or its editorial board. I just think this is too important of an issue to not discuss. I also don’t want to wish ill upon the former Maneater editors. But I do believe that their actions are the best to take in a situation like this. Although, I don’t think that a complete withdrawal from journalism should be the immediate response.

Sidebar: I also disagree with the disciplinary action the university is reactively taking. It’s extreme, unnecessary and tiptoeing around very volatile territory for a student publication’s rights. These editors have been through hell and back, and it’s not over yet. But deliberately ruining them is not, in my opinion, the mature reaction at all.

We live and we learn, and this just happens to be one of these learning moments that happens to be relentlessly burning in the spotlight of criticism. But I do believe it will help the newspaper grow stronger and help everyone involved learn important lessons that really, truly may not have been learned had this not happened.

Some people have used these unfortunate events to say that journalism today is so easily compromised and held to a lower standard. Others have defended the papers and the editors, saying that they should be forgiven. I think that both of these claims have some truths to them. I also have to admit that, as my ethos and pathos tells me to, I have to sympathize for these editors. They’re going through a strife that a lot of us won’t understand. They do need forgiveness. Because, after all, they did make mistakes. But we all have done the same (although maybe not to the same scale).

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
― Elbert Hubbard

But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable. They should. As a community, we need to hold them accountable for their actions. We also need to, as a community of journalists, hold ourselves accountable. Because what one man (or woman) does in our crowded profession will undeniably affect others. So while we must take responsibilities for our individual actions, we should also keep an eye out and an ear open as a cohesive unit so that we can continue to function. People see us as an entity, so we should do that as well.

I also do think it is concerning that this dire situation is the only thing that really motivated the paper to take direct action against itself. I can’t fail to mention that there have been other apologies this semester for debatably poorly executed and thought-out editorial sections. It’s just such a shame that this had to happen to initiate the change.

Student papers often lament about not being taken seriously by readers. But if they want to be taken seriously and be treated as professionals, they need to act like them. This must happen in the newspaper itself, but also within the newsroom.

But overall, I think this is a learning experience for everyone. It’s a chance for the newspaper to change. It’s a chance for the former editors to think about what happened, and what will happen now. It’s also a chance for us, as outsiders, to learn what happened, to become part of the conversation and — gasp — to forgive, at least eventually. The consequences will be bad. But we should not be so quick to bring out the pitchforks.

This is also a good chance to reflect on our society, and more specifically my generation and my generation of journalists, as a whole. We’ve become a very attack-prone, negative, “insta-everything” (a phrase I like so much I took it from the NYTimes; forgive me!) generation and it’s perpetuated by the internet and our often stubborn perceptions of people. We make fun of each other. We make fun of strangers. It’s become insensitive and unsympathetic, our humor. And often, it’s hard to separate this humor and our critiques from how we present ourselves. But as our Twitter and Facebook profiles become intertwined with our professional life and we combat with “being ourselves” and still being respectable professionals, we’ve gotten into the habit of feeling entitled and being selfish about what we’re really doing and what consequences — and public opinion — could result from our actions.

Yes, you can technically tweet about whatever you want. Sure, you can post that crude article from But you can also refrain from doing that, too. I think the plague of “instant gratification” my generation finds itself coming back to over and over again can really just stem back to both an ignorance about consequence and a selfishness, which is both innate and learned. And let’s not forget that way too many people still say “gay” to mean “dumb.” It’s just…lazy.

Yes, April Fool’s editions are funny. So is that tweet that you want to send about a boring event you’re covering. So is that mean comment you really, really want to say (and don’t lie…you know we all think these things.) about your ex and his/her bad hair day.

But it’s this lack of restraint that is maybe a big reason why these events happen and also why people still are so quick to hound on journalism.

Sometimes we need to refrain from the betrayal that comes from our quick-moving minds and quick-typing fingers. We’ve become too greedy over becoming the most shocking and we’ve become too accepting of extremity and we’re losing regard for ourselves as a community and as a profession that’s always under scrutiny. We too, therefore, are at fault.

I’m not saying that we should resort to inaction. Rather, I’m saying that through our action, we should consider the difficult option of restraint. Sometimes it takes more action to restrain ourselves than from instinctively reacting. And that’s an action that the editors, and also my generation — as journalists and people in general — need to hone. Because otherwise, we’ll just keep shooting ourselves in the foot. Because otherwise, we risk losing the respect of our superiors and also the ability to respect one another.

Phone calls and easter eggs

It’s about 9:15 and Allie and I are in the newsroom as she puts together the school board meeting story from this evening. (Is it weird that I thought about the “It’s 3:00 in the morning” commercial re-reading that and chuckled? Successful ad campaign, Hillary.) Allie’s a really good reporter, and she’s very detail-oriented. I really admire that in her. And she’s a sunbeam, too. I feel creepy writing this as I sit next to her. But hey, apparently I’m a sassy house cat and I can do what I want. I like this.

My last few days were nice, and I got to go on a spontaneous sojourn to Marshfield, Mo., a small town outside of Springfield, with my friend for Easter Sunday. It was a great time, especially because I got to spend some time with some great people (and I got some good food too). And not to mention, I got to indulge my neglected inner Episcopalian for a moment. I always get sad on Easter or other holidays where everyone seems to vanish and gallivant away to their families for a few days. Hey, if I could do that, I would. But that’s a big part of the reason why I decided to come here. Because I’m not near my family, I’ve gotta put myself out on a limb sometimes. And other times, people take me under their wing without my asking or even thinking.

I’ve gotten into a few hefty conversations lately, and it kind of runs in the same thread of how I’ve noticed my life perspective changing so frequently. Journalism has really made me into an observant person, and in that light, I’ve also become very pensive. I’ve become more selective — or maybe selective isn’t the right word, perhaps “attentive” is better — about the people I choose to surround myself with. I’m a very reflective person, internally and externally. I transform to my surroundings. Like a chameleon. I guess you could call me a sassy house chameleon, too. (Are there house chameleons? Do people have them as pets? That’d be fantastic.)

There is a solid group of people in my life that I truly care about. And while that number may be small, I try to embrace these relationships to the fullest extent because they mean so much to me. Sometimes I fail, and I’m a bad friend. Sometimes I’m neglectful, sometimes I’m resigned, sometimes I just want to be alone with a book on war and a cafe au lait. But I’ve been trying very hard for the past few years to make my life filled with as much optimism and open-mindedness as possible. I come from a family that’s very hot-blooded, but one that is also very close. I just hope I’m cared for as well. And maybe I’ll never know the extent of the care I’m receiving. But if I give enough out to the right people, I feel like it’s bound to come full circle.

It’s like reporting, I suppose. You don’t go halfway on a story. You research, you call sources, you outline, you write, you draft, you re-write, you re-draft, you edit, and probably go through more drafts. And that’s not including the photos and graphics (which are equally as important, lest we reporters forget). It’s about truth and fact-checking and being a messenger for the masses. But moreover, I think it’s about humanity itself. And if I can contribute a little bit to humanity and tell a story about its intricacies and conflicts, I can most assuredly contribute to humanity in every other moment. Being a reporter doesn’t mean I have to turn it off when I go home. I need to be accurate, to want to strive for the truth, to talk to the right people, cover all the angles, and simply, tell the story. And I need to be open to the stories in my own life and in my relationships.

So many gods, so many creeds;
So many paths that wind and wind,

While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox