Monday, December 3, 2012

Journalism highs

Since arriving in the UK, I've virtually forgotten I'm a journalism student. Back at home I am in clubs and classes dedicated to the craft. I always have an assignment to turn in, it seems. Journalism waits for no man. There are no breaks in the art of reporting. Storytelling must be done by deadline.

This aspect of my collegiate and personal life has shaped me a great deal, forcing me to work under pressure and take notes in my head even when it's not necessary. When I see plays for pleasure now, I end up compiling commentary in my head as if it's necessary for a subsequent review of the production. I would call this a terrible, overly methodical fate... except I love it so much.

Yet since leaving my journalism major behind for a quarter, I've experienced a relative peace. Fewer deadlines, my work less reliant on receiving phone calls and emails back from strangers. It's a whole new world here in traditional academics.

So when I can do some punchy, hard-hitting writing again, I jump at it.

I'm going to a screening tonight and a press conference in a couple of days. I can't divulge details because much of it is top secret and because I want to maintain some mystery, I feel it is necessary to hold back. But I'm infinitely excited at the prospect.

Over the years, some of my greatest experiences as a writer and reporter have not been part of the process ordinarily associated with journalism. I don't love going on-scene and finding out the details of a story under pressure. It's not the pressure that I dislike, though. It's the boredom and monotony.

I sound like a terrible journalist saying these things, but I long for excitement in what I report. By that, I don't mean that I have to ride rollercoasters or interview serial killers for my scoop. I simply want to be intellectually stimulated by my subject.

It's something I've realized even in writing academic papers. There's something about the experiencing of feeling interested in your topic. If you don't have that excitement, you don't want to go on researching. And without the will, there is no way.

So I like to find will and make my way.

Many moons ago I was an impressionable young middle schooler planning out my future according to the wisdom of Gilmore Girls. Rory Gilmore was a journalist, therefore I would be a journalist. I already enjoyed writing. It was a subject I excelled in. I wasn't sure what journalism actually entailed, but I wanted to find out.

I wrote sample articles and joined a journalism class in my freshman year of high school even though it was recommended I take a science class with that extra slot of time.

Four years later, I was entering one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the United States. But did I really want to be a journalist?

I still don't totally know the answer to that. But only because the definition of journalism has become so nebulous. Is a critic a journalist? Is an arts and entertainment reporter a journalist? If the answer to these questions is "no," then maybe I don't want to be one. But I still think I do.

The reason for this is that the type of writing that gives me a journalism high isn't about that new education policy or a crash on a freeway. I am thrilled by the mundane and the exciting happenings of theater and film and art and music. Does it make me any less of a writer to consider these my greatest joy in reporting?

Tonight I'm re-entering the realm of journalism. It's been a while and while I've possibly lost my chops a bit, I'm ready to test my enthusiasm once again. This time it will be within a subject that is entirely my raison d'ĂȘtre.

There's nothing wrong with molding a profession into the path that fits you best. That's what I'm doing. Let's see where it goes. But first let's have a journalism high tonight.

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