I have been at the for front of the #WitsShutDown strike from day one. When things got serious our editor started asking for stories. But as rookie journalists we often told not to write about ourselves.
So for the fist time this year there was no hesitation on what I should do. I cared too much about this fight. It is my story. So beyond documenting this in pictures, I could not see myself produces a ‘objective’ story for our publication.
But doing this in-depth project has helped me pick my struggle. When we pitched our stories I went for things that I thought would be ‘well received/popular’ stories that I had no real interests in.
All of them got shot down. It was only when I went for something I actually cared about and have an interest in that my pitch was approved. This experience of writing about Islamic art has taught me so much about myself, the Islamic faith and the writer/editor relationship.
Because I genuinely like art and am curious about various religions I was able to pour myself into this. When I spent nights reading up on the Islamic faith or afternoons trying to understand the framing business I was fully present. Completely engaged.
I took it in and it became my story. Not in the direct sense but in that I am committed to it. To the people. To telling their story and I believe that this has makes me a better writer if not journalist.
Being deeply committed to a cause or a story does not blind me its drives me. It is when I take on a story as my own that I am able to go deep. To do the leg work that makes people trust you even when you may have to be critical of them or their ways.
I think it is when this kind of trust between writes and sources is built that people allow us journalist to do our jobs. It is this trust that will hold us accountable and maintain our integrity.
Often this means that I take longer to produces stories , That I wrestle with my editor more or don’t get that money shot all the time but this is the struggle I chose as a writer.
Maybe it means I am not good journalist but it has never stopped from telling the stories I care about. In fact it has made me the go to person for some stories here on campus and so maybe even in life people will chose me as their story tell over a “hard core journalist”