When I originally thought of becoming a journalist, the first picture that came to my mind was that of reporters on TV telling amazing stories about sufferings, tragedy, war, rarities, discoveries, love etc.In my eyes, they were heroes dealing with countless obstacles to be able to tell stories relating to human nature.
I didn’t decide to become a journalist straight away because I was thinking about other career paths such as becoming a surgeon or an archaeologist. However, I was completely sure that I wanted to decipher human nature and any of those paths would put me on the right track. In the end, what made me pursue journalism was my passion for politics.
A good and responsible practice of journalism gives you, as a professional, the opportunity to listen to people from all walks of life and to tell their stories. It allows you to give a voice to those one who have been marginalised from mainstream discourse alongside giving importance to what seems inconsequential.
I strongly believe that this profession could be a democratic practice if journalists and the mass media would give attention to what is actually relevant for the society. Also, they should understand that society belongs to everyone and not just to a few “actors” who want to hegemonise others with their power by showing the same voices and faces within their breaking news.
If the mainstream media does not fully understand and continues to ignore everyone’s interests, it will continue to to destroy the social function for which it was conceived.
As journalists, we influence social consciousness and our most fundamental responsibility is in regard to public opinion. Therefore, we have the duty of seeking always the truth and raising social awareness.
After five years studying at university, I was fortunate to work in the international news department of the second largest newspaper back home. Although I was aware of the complexities involved in the news making process, which includes certain ideologies, routines and interests, I have realised that there was a lot of information that would be interesting to the audience but were not published as the media was focused on other issues considered more relevant.
Throughout my career in reporting international news, I learnt that what could at appear at first sight as a distant and remote event with little public interest, can in fact be important because the subject of every news is always the human being. Therefore the audience also have concerns about events that are taking place in the most remote places in the world. Our role is to highlight the importance of the facts while getting the public interested and involved in subjects.
To provoke critical thinking and reaction, the key is always to find the human side of the story, to put the human being at the heart of the story. It is not about being ahead in presenting the “breaking news”, but it is about analysing the facts by putting them into context. It’s key to suggest to our audiences how an event can affect our lives and how we should respond to it, rather than dictating the reasons being why this event is important. For this reason, I love and prefer the interpretative journalism.
In consequence, I must address that journalism is not a profession for those with an arrogant nature and for those who see it as a way to feed personal egos. It is an humble practice. A real journalist with genuine vocation is not intended to act as a smart alec or as a prophet dictating what others must think and do. Journalism is not the voice of itself, it is the voice of others and the one that ensures the rights of others. It is a social vigilante.
Regarding this profession, the Polish reporter and notable storyteller Ryszard Kapuscinski said: “To be a journalist, above all one needs to be a good person. Bad people cannot be good journalists. Only a good person tries to understand others intentions, faith, interests, difficulties, tragedies and immediately, from the first moment, to identify with their lives.”
An authentic journalist must never miss the sense of wonder and hunger to uncover what seems simple. There are many hidden elements to be revealed. Events do not just happen, they are a logical consequence of factors, conditions and actors.
I do not only just apply this knowledge that I have learnt from journalism to the profession itself as it has also helped me to understand the social environment in which I live in, as well as my personal life.
Journalism has been more than a profession for me. It has been part of my life and part of what defines me. That is why, although I have not worked as a journalist in the last few years, I feel like I have never stopped to being one.
I can’t stop looking at my surroundings and analysing everything in the way that journalists do. Someone once was right when told me that a journalist does not stop acting as a journalist when they leave the newsroom and returns home at the end of the day or is off on holiday. It is more than a profession, it is a personal and social mission.
During my training at university and after years practising journalism, the profession allowed me to strip away personal and political prejudices. That is the only way to understand the diversity that defines the world and to be more prepared to live in it and to try to change it. It is the only way to achieve social balance and the reproduction of the noble values in which a society is founded.
Of course, not everything is fantastic in this profession, as in all others. This picture could seem bad or not feel very rewarding for some people. In my life, I have come across with many barriers such as the pay not being great, people not trusting you as they will think you are always after a story, and having put a huge load of work that is not always appreciated. I am not going to deny so. On the other hand, I must say that the day I chose to follow this way in my life, I decided not to listen to stereotypes or pessimistic voices.
It is true that there is a lot of suffering, but there is also a lot of joy and satisfaction. At the end of the day, I try to forget the troubles and rather keep the wonderful and countless teachings that this profession have given me.