The duty of a journalist

I had the privilege of working with an excellent editor over my summer internship. I worked for the Stonewall Argus, the community newspaper that I grew up reading.

It was an honour to work there, especially with my editor. He’s a former CreComm grad and I felt an instant connection to the man. He knew what I was about to go through this school year, and I look up to him in regards to his writing/editing skills and the type of committed person that he is to his newsroom.

When I started the job in the summer, he left on vacation about a week and a half after I got there. All of a sudden, I was responsible for creating two 24-page issues, write articles, columns, edit, take pictures, attend events, layout and much more.

I was thrown into the fire, but it gave me great respect for my editor. The demand was great. Working for the paper was literally all I did during those weeks. Heck, it was all that I did during the summer. I felt quite bad leaving at the end of the summer, I don’t know how he was able to create a new paper week in and week out all by himself.

He is leaving his position of editor at The Stonewall Argus. I’m excited that he gets to move onto new and exciting things and focus on his writing, rather than all of the administrative duties that he obtained as editor of The Argus. 

He wrote a column in his second-last edition of The Argus. I’ve attached it as a link above. He made a point that I haven’t been able to get out of my head lately.

People don’t decide to become to become the editor of a newspaper because they think it might be “neat” or a fun diversion during an unrelated career path. They are in that chair because that is what they do. They don’t do this job because of convenience, because it demands much of them. They don’t do it for wealth or influence. They do it because this job, and the spirit to tackle its challenges, are written into them as surely as their stories are written in ink.

He questions himself for becoming a journalist. Why do I do this?

The answer, however, is simple, and something I can relate to. The reason I do this is because this is what I do.

Journalism is not a career that usually leads to a lavish lifestyle. I doubt there’s anyone going through journalism and planning on making millions. Some might be lucky and become more successful than others, but for the most part, we grind it out day after day to tell tales.

But why do we do this?

I’ve already learned that the life of a journalist is intense, through my work over the summer and through school. But I love to tell a good story.

Back in grade 4 and 5, we had short story units at school. I remember this one Christmas themed story that I had written, and I thought it was brilliant. My “short” story turned out to be 12 pages, compared to most kids who had written four or five. I loved to tell stories. I loved to write about people.

It wasn’t until grade 8 when I learned that journalism was story telling, just about real people. I had written a news article for an assignment in English class. I received a rare 10/10 and my English teacher had written the comment “I’m looking forward to reading your work in The Free Press one day.” I knew what I wanted to do.

The thought of becoming a recognizable face on the news never crossed my mind. I just wanted to tell stories because that made me happy. 

To this day, it still does. But I don’t think my grade 8 self could comprehend just what kind of work I’d be doing. I don’t think he knew anything about deadlines, tweeting, online content, voice overs, script n’ clips or FOI requests.

He was a clueless kid, who had a dream. One that I’m still pursuing to this day.

As my former editor put it, we don’t do this for fame. We don’t take on these jobs because we think they’re going to make us famous. 

We take them because we have a duty. We have the duty to constantly be thinking about our work and how to improve it. We have the duty to make sure the public is receiving their information quickly, accurately and effectively. 

My grade 8 self didn’t realize he’d be taking on all of these duties. But he’s up for the challenge.


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