Position: Newspaper Co-Editor
College: Yale University
Major: Economics or Cognitive Science
She tried to talk, but she couldn’t utter a word. Sitting in the bedroom of a girl I had never met until 10 minutes before, I was interviewing Alishka for the school newspaper about the recent death of her father. And I had put her to silence. She couldn’t tell me about it face to face. No, not so soon. She would type her answers and send them to me in a couple of hours.
I read her life story, saw the incredibly chaotic life she lived as a teenager, and realized I had become a journalist because I knew everyone could relate to a story if it was told correctly. People may think journalism is dying, but that’s only because they see journalism as whatever the paper boy tosses on their driveway that morning. As long as there is a thirst to learn more about other people, journalism will thrive, even if it moves away from long broadsheets and toward websites and videos and even social networking posts.
Alishka and I talked, through email, about her father who encouraged her to draw, who bought her a tablet, who kept her sane when all else failed on her. She told me of how she would close her bedroom door and draw comics when her parents fought. She told me of when she started her dad’s portrait only hours after he had been buried. She was giving me every detail of her whole life, and I barely knew her–it was my responsibility to make sure the world saw her life in the same way she did.
While it may seem like everyone has a different life, a well-written story can reveal the connections between us all. The story may be about an academic all-star or a recovering drug addict, but people find other people’s stories interesting because they share the same emotions. Whether it’s a strong passion or bad luck or a broken heart, the stories become powerful only when they are relatable.
One of the many joys of being Co-Editor of the Harbinger has been proving that newspapers can remain relevant even in an increasingly fast-paced world. Although the attention span of students seems to get shorter every year, I still see everyone carrying a Harbinger under their armpit on the way to their next class. We aren’t always perfect—and yes, 30 people gleefully tell me every time there is a spelling mistake—but as long as we have readers, I will gladly accept their criticism.
It is professional journalism that now worries me the most. When the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” becomes America’s most reliable source of news, it is clear we are at a breaking point–what’s reporting and what’s entertainment? Now that it is easy to broadcast a message to the whole world, everyone seems like an “expert.” These anchors-turned-reporters, however, are more concerned about the bottom line than fair reporting. The Walter Cronkites and Tom Brokaws of the world are now being replaced by whatever pretty face can attract viewers, and this scares me.
So, as I desperately look to find a major, a career path, anything that can guide my studies for the next four years, I fall back on my passion for truth and accurate reporting. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be a professional journalist, but I know I can make the world a better place because I know how many people have a story waiting to be heard.
When I first contacted Alishka, I told her I would tell her full story to the world, and that people would understand her after that. The story would publish about a week after our initial interview, and she sent me a Facebook message soon after. It made me nervous. Was I too dramatic? Did I miss a fact? Did she really not want her story told in full to 2,000 people?
“Can I have a copy to put in a frame?”
A story can change how the world looks at a person like nothing else can, and that’s why journalism will never die.