Thursday, August 9, 2012

One step closer to the future

By Laura Nunez (Los Angeles, CA)

I had always considered journalism to be extremely rewarding, for a journalist never stops learning, and is entitled to ask questions to anyone and everyone. I knew journalists were in a sense truth seekers, and that they had a responsibility to the rest of the world of exposing the truth and representing extraordinary but unnoticed people. But I had not contemplated the demands and difficulties that journalists face day to day.

I sit in front of this computer screen at 10:45 PM and realize that there is still so much work that has to be done and it could… should be a couple more hours before I go to sleep.

The truth is that I have four articles yet to be completed, and I have AP homework assignments that I must finish by the 14th of this month. I am still a mess in terms of reaching out to complete strangers and interviewing them. My writing is chicken scratch so it takes me a long time to transcribe my notes, and on top of all that, I am my toughest critic. I am tired, stressed, but nevertheless fascinated. This is the first time that I've worked under so much pressure, the first time that I have tested my ability to remain productive despite fatigue, and I’m guessing this is as close to the real world of journalism as it gets.

While touring the New York Times and CNN I realized that my stress was being shared by all those working in the newsroom. They hardly looked up to see what was going on around them; it was like they were absorbed in another world, one with stricter deadlines and higher stakes than us. I have learned that journalist are held at higher standards than most people; the integrity and credibility of entire news outlets are placed in the writers' hands. People trust journalists with their deepest, darkest secrets, and ultimately every writer is held accountable for their work and the choices they make.

I feel like I have spoken too much about the stress and responsibility that come along with being a journalist, but they come to show that journalist are very bold and inspiring people: they deserve respect. People in my own community still have the mentality that journalism can’t sustain a living. They say that the chances of succeeding in the field are scarce and they even advise me to think more “realistically” and come up with a back up plan. I say that I am not going to waste my time with the “what if’s.” Journalism puts survival of the fittest to the test and only the strongest succeed. It may discourage others but I am completely up for the challenge because I value sacrifice and diligence, and because I want to prove myself to all the people who questioned my judgment and doubted that someone as reserved as myself could ever succeed in the field.

As I walked through the offices of the New York Times I began to wonder whether it was possible for me to one day have my very own office here. “Only the best make it here,” I kept repeating to myself; writing for The New York Times is a dream for thousands of people. What does it take to get here, and do I stand a chance? I looked out the window of the cafeteria and at the hundreds of ant-sized people that crowded the streets. I don’t know how my future will turn out; I guess it’s me against the world.

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