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  • I am a journalist.

    Yesterday marked six full months at my first newspaper job; my first full-time, real-world, adult job. And so I think it is only appropriate that my first entry on cowbird happens now.

    “Journalist” may evoke a variety of emotions – negative, positive or neutral – depending on the individual’s perspective.

    Me? Well, every day when I leave the office and say “goodbye newsroom” my fellow journalists respond, “goodbye features” – my beat and now my nickname. So no, I don’t cover the murders, fires or courtroom dramas. Does that alter your perspective of me?

    One of my fellow reporters once said I wasn’t really a journalist, and I punched him in the arm.

    Maybe I don’t dish the dirty scope, but I do report on events, organizations and real people, doing whatever makes them tick. My co-workers report on traumatic events, I report on everything else that happens in life – a pretty hefty job description if I do say so myself.

    Now, in the effort of full disclosure, I don’t leap for joy at every article assigned to me. Some of them, I just want to finish by deadline. I do have favorites, ones that I’m really proud of and can’t wait to hear the community’s reaction on.

    One of those favorites was published on Sunday.

    I work two jobs, and one of my co-workers at my second job, had asked me to bring in the article on Sunday as it was relevant to someone we know. I let a few of my co-workers read it, and it was the first article most of them had ever read with my byline.

    “I love the way you use quotes,” said Randy. “You let them tell the story.”

    Thanks Randy.

    That means a lot to me as I am the kind of person who craves and thrives on affirmation. And, he nailed exactly what I’m going for as a journalist.

    The publication of this article in conjunction with an interview I did with Sarah Alderman last Wednesday were a refreshing reminder of why I choose to be a journalist.

    Sarah recently came home after a two week trip to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where she helped the people there tell their stories on – I will be telling her story in my paper in the coming weeks.

    But she talked a little bit about sensationalized journalism, when a piece primarily depicts the awfulness of a situation. In the context of Pine Ridge, she said that previous articles had defined those people by the violence and poverty there, neglecting to tell their whole story.

    I thought, God, I hope I don’t do that in my pieces. But Randy’s comment on Sunday was a small affirmation that I’m on the right track.

    My interview with Sarah got me thinking a lot.

    My pieces about real people, just dealing with the hand they’ve been dealt in life, are what make me tick. Furthermore, I feel very honored and privileged that my interviewees trust lil’ ol’ me to be their advocate. I hope that they feel I do their story justice when they see it in 500-800 words on flimsy grey paper.

    I love my job because I love to tell other people’s stories and learn from them – vicarious living. But I forget that. I think that’s been one of my first real-world lessons as an adult. Even when you go into a career with passion, the day in and day out routine wears on you, and you need reminders.

    So thanks to Sarah, the publication of my recent article and Randy’s compliment, I feel ready and excited to conquer the next six months of my career.
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