Monday, October 22, 2012

Reflections from a New Journalist

Over the course of the semester, our new journalism students reflect on their experience and their study of the text The Elements of Journalism.  Below Raul Barriga from the Diocese of San Francisco offers some of his thoughts on his experience thus far:

The elements of journalism that we have discussed thus far will shape my practice as a journalist by creating a sense of appreciation for the possibilities that I can encounter in practice.  Three insights that I encountered in this journalism class are the elements of photos, the experiences involved in interviews, and the continual development of journalism methodology or principles.

Some difficult elements of [photography] are the informational, passive, and active elements of a photo.  These are just some from among the many elements involved in photos.  The judgment of some of these elements in a photo seemed quite arbitrary for my inexperience.  In spite of the difficulties in trying to assemble a good photo with elements, I nevertheless have tried to incorporate them into the photos I have taken for this class.  I tried to use the rule of thirds, for example, when I took a picture of a soccer event.  Thus, I try to carry what I learn from this class into my daily plans as a journalist.

Raul Barriga - photo by Sister Hilda Kleiman

"Life is a bunch of interviews": these are my own words after being in Sr. Hilda's office and noticing some pictures she has on her wall.  I found myself captivated by asking her to elaborate more on the background of those pictures.  Thus, I came to appreciate the way this simple situation accounts for every day life as we communicate information to each other.  The experiences I have encountered in interviews for this class have been great ways for me to learn about things that I would otherwise not have been able to know were it not for asking a person in an interview.

The mace and chain used in graduation ceremonies here at Mount Angel Seminary and brought to our class by Cindy May are a great example of two interesting subjects.  [Editor's note: Raul's story based on this interview is forthcoming on our journalism blog].  The interview in class was supposed to be about the mace and chain, and May made this clear to me, but I saw two stories joined into one: the mace and chain themselves and Cindy May and her creation of the mace. 

These are just some of the great treasures of people that I can learn from through their interviews.  I can see how this principle can apply to working and even just having conversations with everyday people.  This is what I learned from our interview with May.

The content from our readings seemed to me as a whole other side of journalism in terms of its theory.  Upon beginning to read, I encountered myself with a state of affairs or baggage that journalism has had through its history.  The examples of interviews that a journalist encounters seem great in my experience, but the readings of our book seem to portray to me a whole other side of journalism that alludes to the profession.

The seriousness of this profession makes me think twice about being a journalist because I think of the pressure of having to create newsworthy material for people.  The notion of verification, for example, seems important to everyone so I would be careful in expressing an account of an event.  Nevertheless, I am open to the readings that I could otherwise not have known about.

All in all, I feel that this class has gotten off to a good start.  The ideas for possible tasks as a journalist keep coming in as I try to finish the last work, which may be typical to a professional journalist.  I look forward to the experiences that I will be having throughout the rest of this class, even though it will not be enough to cover the vast treasuries that journalism has to offer.  Thus, I feel that I have made up my mind: I will settle with what I can afford to be - a journalist for life.

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