• chantalmcanales

Yes I Am A Journalism Major, No I Don't Want To Report The News Or Be On TV

On an ordinary Tuesday morning during my sophomore year of high school, I discovered the power of journalism and the stories that can be told in front of a camera lens. I was in a photojournalism class, and I was shown a photo of John F. Kennedy Jr, saluting his father’s coffin during the funeral procession of the late President in Washington D.C. The image was in black in white, but in my mind’s eye, I only saw color, and the history and emotion behind it. I knew then that journalism was the field of study I wanted to pursue because of its versatility, storytelling abilities, and unprecedented way of combining my passion for writing and photography.

But I never wanted to be in the news, reading off a teleprompter, trying to remain neutral and unaffected while reading horrific stories. Never did I want to become a writer for a newspaper reporting on daily events in the country. In short: I didn’t decide to become a journalism major to join the ranks of reporters such as Anderson Cooper or Megyn Kelly.

Since I was young, I have always had a passion for writing and reading. Instead of chasing around other kids in a game of tag or kickball, I would sit outside on a bench, reading the latest release of my favorite book series. I was constantly on the search for a new and intriguing story, so it is no surprise that when I got older, I wanted to make writing an essential part of my career.

But it wasn't until high school I became interested in photography. Being shown powerful images of heartbreak, bravery and joy inspired me to start taking pictures, and not with a silly iPhone camera with crazy filters. Covering energetic football games, spirited pep rallies, and beautiful orchestra concerts.

So with my love of writing, photography, and storytelling, I decided to major in journalism.

Often times when I tell people that I am studying journalism at Baylor, they just assume that I want to be on TV, broadcasting news about local crimes, prominent political elections, and stories of heroism in a small town that go national. They believe that I want to end up in a small newsroom, pitching article ideas to editors about a local hero who saved someone from danger or a story about a robbery gone wrong. That has never been my goal.

I think that because reporting is one of the first examples of journalism we are exposed to, people often just expect me to end up at a news station or at a local newspaper. We watch the news to hear about events of tragedy and bravery all across the world. We hear accounts of mass shootings and the valiant efforts of those who try to stop them. We keep our keen eyes open on our political figures as they shape our government and the world left to the next generation. Social media has made it even easier to gain access to news reports, with popular news briefings on Twitter, quick access to live video coverage on Facebook, and short news stories on Snapchat.

One of the problems with today's journalism is that is has become so divided. Networks have transformed their reporting to a more opinionated voice that appeals to their respective political parties. But just reporting the news, speaking without emotion, with a voice that doesn't quiver at the announcement of a horrible terrorist attack and one that doesn't rejoice with the news of a good Samaritan, is less than genuine. News reporting and writing lack a human touch, even as journalists share stories of real emotion.

Real story-telling, in my opinion, can be done through a camera lens, an in-depth interview, or a national ad campaign. The first time I really discovered what I wanted to do was when I was shown a design and advertising campaign for the NFL Philadelphia Eagles. I was captivated by how just a photograph and some special design could tell a story about a football team, a group of brothers who recognize their past failures and want to grow from them. A team who is ready to push harder, train better and accomplish something greater than they could ever imagine.

Design, photography, and writing can do such a better story-telling job than reading a teleprompter in a brightly lit newsroom. So much more emotion can be shared by capturing a raw moment between two people after a loss or a victory. Editing skills can transform that photograph into an experience for the person who sees it, along with the carefully crafted caption to put into words what the photographer wanted to say.

Now. Ask me again if I want to be a reporter or write for a newspaper.

Don't get me wrong. The news reporters that grace our television screens every day and journalists who write articles on a daily basis have one of the most important jobs in the country. They serve as our watchdogs, keeping track of what happens all over the world, in our government, and in our communities. It is a noble job that I would be grateful to have during the beginning of my career in journalism, but it has never been what I wanted to do.

I can read off a script and write a news report. But I am capable of much more.

When I look back on my time in college, I'm going to reflect on the journalism classes that changed the way I looked at my field, beyond standing in front of a broadcast camera and asking for a quote from political officials. Becoming a better writer and photographer in just one year has shown me the diversity of journalism in so many ways. Breaking the stereotype of becoming a newscaster or reporter will make me so content as a writer.

So no. I don't want to become a news reporter in any capacity. Whatever I do with my career after college, I hope to tell stories with emotion and a deep passion for what I write about. If it means doing work for an editorial magazine, becoming a photojournalist, or simply being a copywriter at an ad agency, I want to share stories about the real and raw things of life.