With the darkening of days and the threat of the first snowfall on the horizon, it is clear that it is no longer summer. Almost an entire term has passed in a whirlwind of stress, elation, breakdowns and new discoveries. These couple months have been a learning experience in more ways than one. In my classes I learned about colonialism and how it has shaped modern Canada, I studied some of the greatest political thinkers and philosophers in Political Science, I learned how to speak German (quite poorly) and I analyzed modern and historical poetry to reveal hidden meanings. However, none of these experiences have been as difficult, as interesting or as humbling as the things I have learned in Journalism.
Coming into Carleton University to study Journalism, I thought I knew exactly what to expect. I prepared myself mentally for long nights of hard work and long days spent in a sleep deprived stupor. I tried to accustom myself to the harsh taste of black coffee instead of my usual hot chocolate. I saved my money to make sure I had enough for groceries when I knew I wouldn’t be leaving my room. I also prepared myself for the idea that I would probably not like journalism, but that it was worth it in the end. While some of these methods I used to get ready were useful, some were completely unnecessary. I get more sleep than I thought I would, I have learned to love a hot cup of black caffeine and I absolutely adore journalism.
This term taught me that a journalist’s integrity is more important than the actual story, especially to the reader. Although it is important to deliver the story, it is more important to deliver an accurate and factual story instead of a perhaps more interesting story. Jonah Lehrer learned this lesson the hard way after plagiarizing and fabricating Bob Dylan quotes. Also, if the means to getting the truth are immoral such as The News International phone hacking scandal, you will lose your audience as well. As journalists we are ambassadors of the people to keep them informed as well as to keep the powerful honest. If we are no longer honest, how can the people trust our information?
Also, I learned how important it is to be curious. The need to know is what fuels our desire and passion for journalism, if one lacks that drive there is no longer a reason for either. So many people are content with their ignorance nowadays, it is up to us, the curious and the inquisitive, to reignite their thirst of knowledge through our own. Had Woodward and Bernstein not been curious, the corruption in the White House would probably have remained concealed. A true journalists curiosity is there most important gift, if we lose that, then we are all lost.
Another important thing I learned about journalism, but also about life, is that it is important to follow your heart. No matter where it leads you, it is vital that your sense of self remains intact. Not many people have the courage or to tenacity to do what journalists do, but unfortunately not all journalists have the strength to remain unswayed by the many pressures that they are faced with. We are autonomous, not to be bribed or intimidated. Our journalistic missions are our guiding light, our lighthouse on a foggy night, our beacon of hope. If someone can corrupt the defenders of truth, our lights are extinguished.
This all leaves me with one question to ponder, what kind of journalist will I be? Will I be incorruptible?