With so many wrongs to right in the world, it’s difficult to balance my obligation to the truth with adhering to the rules of the craft. In trying to do so, I buried some parts of my life story deep within the recesses of my mind. In short, I was an inch closer to becoming the guy I often scoffed at along the later part of my life journey: the one who forget their origins and will eventually come to give up on those less fortunate than them.
Thank fully I’m not all the way there. The Power of Our Stories, The first info session I attended at Netroots woke me up. The parts of life and people I met along the way, whether they’re in my family, neighborhood, or in schools, are part of the reason have fueled my passion for journalism and public policy. Their struggles especially that of the young black man, mirror that of mine regardless of the trajectory of our lives. Since my first day of college, I have been trying to put the pieces together as to why I made it this far and others have not done so for themselves. That question was the root from which many of the articles and blog posts I have written have originated.
I could not even explain my life path and metamorphosis in relation to my passion this morning in front of my small group.. Call it trying to sound objective. My matriculation through school and the addition of another job title or post has almost prevented me from becoming a human. The world of public policy is full of wonks willing to spit a random statistic about the issue of their choice at any given moment. Today’s workshop showed me that indeed there is power in a good story and one’s life experiences. They’re more memorable and easier to digest for those who are not as wonky. A good story goes beyond boring statistics and actually puts a human face to the issue that is the topic of discussion at that present moment. A good story moves people to action!
Journalists tell stories. They are not advocates. I have been told that for the longest time. The notion of what makes a good journalist has been changing since I first started attending The George Washington University five years ago. I’m just trying to catch up. For every Rachel Maddow, there is a Sean Hannity to match. Each person has an agenda, but tries to adhere to the values of journalism in their own way. Now it’s time for me to look deep within myself to evaluate my own value system. I present the facts but in a way I am an advocate. While I am not advocating for a particular issue, I am advocating for a common understanding amongst all parties that there are systematic reasons as to why some people are not living their American Dream. I’m just doing my job through those stories.
Please forgive me as I leave to attend more events and meet more people. Please look out tomorrow for a little more about what I learn. This is quite a lot to take in. I will be sure to summarize it and be as engaging as possible.
– Sam P.K. Collins