If there is one thing I have learned from this semester, it’s that it sure take guts to be a journalist! A lot of people who watch TV and read newspapers never really give much thought to how much work is done to make such information available in the first place. A simple five-word statement from a primary source can take weeks to obtain due to conflicts in interview scheduling and requesting permission to publish certain statements.  In cases of time restraints, which are very common in the newspaper industry, it is all the more challenging to make sure you are getting the information you need and writing it in such a way that people will be willing to read it.  This semester has really given me some great practical experience so far; I think I am a lot more prepared for the possibility of taking on a profession in the media sector.

The first assignment we had was to cover a speaker event.  I chose to attend a speaker panel at Harvard University with the Boston Globe to discuss their new online paywall strategy.  For this assignment, we had the challenge of ensuring we got newsworthy quotes from the speakers and attendees and taking photos from the event.  I think the most difficult aspect was taking the pictures, as I have never done journalism photography before.  A lot of the time I felt conflicted with what was accepted as socially acceptable versus the responsibility of a news writer, covering a story (i.e. sitting down to listen to the panel attentively, as opposed to constantly moving around the room to get the perfect photographic angle).

If I ever have the chance to cover another speaker story in the future, I will definitely make use of a voice recorder.  As opposed to a personal interview, where you have the chance to pace the interview according to how quickly you take notes, one is forced to keep up with the speaker at a speaker event.  I was lucky that the Boston Globe event was being recorded, so I was able to go back online and get some quotes I had missed out on, but obviously this won’t always be the case at every event I attend.

The issues story that our class recently did was a lot more challenging than the speaker story.  We had to get interviews and quotes from experts in whatever field we were researching.   Since I was doing a story on student loans, I tweeted College Board to ask if they had any information on student loan statistics for me to use for my story.  I was actually surprised when they tweeted me back!  The internet has definitely made communication a lot easier and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get in touch with people just for the purpose of getting information.  Even though we had the challenge to having to reach out to someone over the internet, I thought it was quite enjoyable.  I also interviewed a Boston University graduate for my anecdotal story, and I thought it was fun to write a “news piece” in the format of a story.

Moving forward, I think I still have a lot to learn in terms of spinning a news angle that will capture readers, as well as working up the courage to do journalism-related tasks like making direct contact for research and interviews, taking photos at events and.   Like I said, it takes guts to be a journalist, and I look forward to pursuing these challenges in class and possibly as a future career!