Why Journalism?

Dear Students:

Why did you choose journalism? Along with the lessons about writing, reporting, and editing I genuinely want you to answer this question. It is not an easy career, it changes rapidly, and there really is no such thing as job security. So why journalism?

“Fake News” is a term heard and seen daily. What does it really mean to you? Will it have an impact on how you do your job? Are you ready to enter a career that appears under attack? What will you do differently?

During the summer I co-taught a 3-week intensive program for high school students. It was shocking to hear how much mistrust they when it came to the news media. “Everyone is lying,” was a phrase often spoken by these well educated young students. So I asked in return, “why journalism?”.

Gone are the days when mass media was all on the same page. You chose a network for news, read the local paper, and the stories were there. It was a common ground across America. We all worked from a similar set of facts and stories. Today that has changed, people tailor their news to fit their lifestyle, there is no common ground. So what will you do as a journalist to inform your specific audience?

The students this summer talked about a lack of balance in the media, “everyone leans left or right,” was the comment. Is that indeed the case? What can you do to restore faith in the media? Several students cited transparency, adding each media outlet should admit to the bias and let the reader or viewer decide for themselves. It was a worthy discussion.

What is the role of journalism in today’s society? Is it to tell the truth? Inform society as a whole?  I think the more important question is, what do you see the role of journalism in the future?

So why did you choose journalism? I look forward to helping you find the answers.

Sincerely,

Angela Anderson Connolly

Affiliated Faculty Member/Journalism

Emerson College

A Letter to my Graduating Students

It is that time of year, graduation season. I greet the end of the semester with my students with mixed emotions. I am both sad and happy to see the students I have watched grow and learn graduate.

The students graduating from the program this year were Freshman when I began teaching as a member of the Affiliated Faculty. I feel as though they have seen me grow as a teacher, as I have seen them grow as journalists. It is a fairly small program, and I get to know many of the students extremely well. It is exciting to see them win awards for their work leading up to graduation. It is more exciting to hear from each one where they will be headed next.

I often get asked advice about starting out, and I say the same thing to each one, be yourself. No matter the field they chose to enter remaining true to the person, and their values will always be the right choice.  I know there will be times those values are challenged, and that is when you have to dig the deepest.

It is a bit of a scary time to enter the world of journalism. The industry is changing, evolving. The reliance on digital content and the 24-hour news cycle puts more pressure on journalists than ever. It is even scarier for young adults heading out on their own for the first time without the support system of a school or home. It is my hope that first job will offer some support and encouragement as each student grows.

I wish my students well as they step across that stage, I am proud of each and every one of them. They learned to think for themselves over the past four years, and have the skills needed to succeed. It is time for them to spread their wings and trust themselves, I look forward to seeing the great journalism you produce.

A View from the Sidelines

For the first time in some years, I went to the Boston Marathon as a spectator, not a journalist. There was no need to feed those live reports to radio stations around the country. I was not looking for the wide spectrum of people to speak with about why the braved the crowds. Instead, I was simply one of those people.

 

I dragged my daughter along, she goes to college in Boston. We started at Fenway while the Red Sox were still playing, and stopped to watch some of the runners go through Kenmore Square. These were not the elite runners, but those who have full-time jobs and still manage to train for the grueling marathon. It was inspiring to see the determination on faces of men and women that as a child probably never dreamed they would be running this marathon.

 

We went toward Fenway Park, the Red Sox were still playing, the crowd was huge. There were college students, families and a lot of international visitors. The atmosphere was positive and fun and showed how the city of Boston can come together.

 

One of the highlights of the day, a stretch where the runners go into a tunnel and back out only to have to climb a hill, with one mile left to go. It was 3:30 in the afternoon and the crowds were still there cheering, with cowbells and encouraging each person to just keep going. A metaphor for life, just keep going and encourage others to do the same.

 

Since the 2013 bombings, the marathon has become synonymous with a spirit of perseverance.  It has now become part of the narrative for any news organization covering the event. This year, while the Boston media honored those who died and those who survived, it seemed for the first time it was not the focus of pre-marathon coverage. This could be because the trial is over, and the city has found some closure. There were stories about survivors running the marathon, and the wreath laying ceremonies were covered live.

 

I will admit, seeing large trucks blocking the streets that led to the marathon route was a bit unnerving. Knowing that around the world terror attacks have become more frequent and targeting large crowds. There were security checkpoints along the route, but no one complained about the lines. In fact, many now know the routine, a clear plastic bag or no bag at all.

 

We stopped several times along the route to marvel at the accomplishments of the runners, and the cheer them on. It was nice for a change to be part of the day and not just an observer. It gave me a new perspective on Marathon Monday, that is more than just a day off from school and work and the kick off to the tourism season in Boston. The day is a celebration of unity, because when you looked at the runners and those who were cheering we were all one, celebrating a spectacular event that brings us all together.

 

Next year I am sure to be back in the thick of it as a journalist, and while those press credentials will make it easier to get around, I will have a new respect for those who make the time to cheer on friends and strangers