It’s a sunny, Wednesday afternoon in California. I’m in my bedroom. I’m sitting in the middle of my bed as I type these words. To my left on a bookshelf is two years worth of newspapers from my time as a writer and editor at my university’s student paper. Every high and low point of my time as a student journalist and a journalism student is running through my mind as news rolls in of a shooting at a newsroom on the opposite end of the country in Annapolis, MD.
Mass shootings always hit me really hard. I look around and find I’m more sensitive to them than most. I always read the news when I’m alone because I know I’ll cry to the point of exhaustion. No shooting is ever easier for me to deal with, which I suppose is a good thing. I’m not numb to it yet like a lot of people seem to be heading towards. It still hurts, and that pain still drives me to push for change.
This one, though… This one feels so personal. I mean, really, all of them have felt personal. I was a student at an elementary school, at a middle school, at a high school and at a college. I go the movies. I go to concerts. I go to the mall. I feel like I’m closing in on myself more and more every day because all of my spaces are being invaded.
Today, it was a newsroom.
Immediately, I imagined my campus newsroom, where just last month I was finishing up my final production night. Then I imagined my local paper’s newsroom and my local news stations, where I have friends working and interning.
When I started college in 2014, “fake news” wasn’t a phrase tossed around (like, ever) and for the most part, all I had to worry about was the fact that print was dying and everything was going digital. In 2016 I was hired at my school paper and got my first taste of an actual newsroom.
My beat was always entertainment journalism. And even though I wasn’t tackling the crime stories, or the politics stories, or doing hard-hitting investigative journalism, I was not excused from being included in discussions of what the climate of journalism has become.
If I spoke to anyone outside of my newsroom or my major about where I worked or what I was majoring in, you bet we had a conversation about “fake news.” You bet I was advised on what publications to steer clear of once I graduated because they were considered untrustworthy. You bet I had people not wanting to talk to me because when I explained what I did as just “journalism” instead of “entertainment journalism,” they got weird.
At times it was alienating and I wondered if spending my time getting a degree in this field was worth it. I now officially have a degree in journalism and I still wonder that sometimes. This is such a strange and difficult time to be a journalist and to study journalism. But we need journalists now more than ever. We need people reporting the truth and keeping us informed and documenting history exactly as it happens. We need to hear from all sides so we may understand one another. We need journalists.
Yet, across the country from me, journalists have just been shot and killed in their newsroom. They were doing their job of serving their community, and were killed. They weren’t at a crime scene. They weren’t reporting from a war zone. They weren’t out in the field.
They were sitting at their desks.
Maybe this is hitting me differently because it’s still fresh in my mind of what it feels like to sit in a newsroom surrounded by my coworkers as we write and edit and publish stories. It’s too easy to picture myself at my desk, trying to meet a deadline.
I don’t know what I wanted to come from writing this, but writing something was my first instinct. And I know a couple hundred words about what is going through my mind right now won’t do anything to help the situation, but my love of journalism has always stemmed from a love for words, so it didn’t feel right this time around to only lend a few in the form of a tweet. I needed to get it all out and not minimize it. I hope that’s okay.