This week, I’ve been working at the Missouri Urban Journalism Workshop, which is for high schoolers with an interest in journalism.
They get about a day of training, and then they have to start writing articles and making videos, which make up the Urban Pioneer. My job as a “student editor” involved a lot of answering questions about who the students should contact for stories and how the Missourian’s computer system worked.
The most rewarding part was watching the students as they transformed. They were very different people when I first met them on Sunday than when I started working with them on Monday. We’d given a series of “mini lectures” about writing and information gathering and they proved that they were listening.
It was amazing to see students immediately change how they were working just because you suggested something to them that would work better. I’d forgotten what it was like to really be a teacher with that great of an impact.
Even though I’m in a teaching role at the Missourian, I’m the second or third or fourth teacher to try and teach the college students how to report and the students are not always as quick to correct themselves.
These high schoolers changed with a sense of immediacy and passion that reminded me what it was like when I entered the field of journalism for the first time — diving right in to my first story with little idea of what to expect.
After four years, most of that mystery is gone. I feel like I know more of what to expect (even if I cheat by expecting to find whatever I’m not expecting), but that doesn’t destroy the passion.
No matter how ready I am, there is always something new. That’s one of my favorite parts about being a journalist. No two stories or editing shifts are the same. Instead, my work reflects the life of the community I work in. And its that connection to the community that keeps the passion alive.
The high schoolers learned about the community of journalists this week, and that is where they drew their passion from as they got to work with people who get paid to tell stories. But my passion has come from Columbia for so long, that I start to realize that at least part of me is going to miss it.
Only just now am I realizing that my lease is up and I don’t live in Columbia as of two weeks from now. I’ll still be reporting here for a while after that, but I’ll be bumming couches and looking for work that’s not here.
And even though I’m going to move to St. Louis as soon as I get steady enough work, it won’t be home until I can manage to draw my passion from the people around me by sharing their stories at the point where they intersect mine.