Thursday, August 9, 2012

Insecurities and inspirations

By Delia Beristain (Fort Washington, MD)

While collecting information for our investigative report in Manhattan, I remembered the reporting ethics we have been discussing for the past few days and was able to apply them to the interviewing process. Although it was a scary, first time experience for many of us, I found that people were polite and mostly opened up when we approached them.

Having no previous experience in this area was not a barrier for us because journalists are essentially inquirers, it is a journalist's job to regard every detail as important as the next. This contributes to the collection of data, and also helps to get a legitimately representative number of responses, which can determine how we develop our stories and the kind of societal good that results.

As I eased into the immensity of Central Park, I kept in mind the exceptional courage Elizabeth Cochrane, a well known female journalist from the 1900s, demonstrated when she insisted on working on an extensive investigative report about the outrageous conditions in a mental hospital for women. Exposing herself to such poor treatment and putting her life in the hands of an unscrupulous institution demonstrated her persistence and commitment to serving social justice.
Due to the isolation she felt in her pitiful confinement, there were times when she was on the edge of becoming just as nutty as the institution claimed all those women to be.

While this may seem like an extreme example, remembering it helped me today to confront my fears and dive into the project, reminding me to be open and flexible to whatever story we might find.

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