Evert morning I get an alert from The Lantern of the stories in that day’s paper, and glance at it before tackling the paper itself. But I can’t say I was ever more excited to get that alert than today.
The subject line was “Graffiti tags on occupied buildings must go, commission says,” and I knew immediately it was the story by my student Chelsea Castle, on which she had work with such dedication to get it published in our school paper. Chelsea is one of those students of which a professor dreams–a hard worker, who wants to learn as much as she can, who is open to constructive comments and has a few of her own. She has original ideas, the convictions to stand behind them, and the humility to know they can often benefit from other viewpoints. And I could not be prouder of her for getting her story published.
And, fortunately for me, Chelsea is not alone in her skills.
I never cease to be amazed at the level of enthusiasm and creativity that come from so many of my students, young people no doubt on the verge of doing great things who engage every day in the pursuit of self-knowledge and improvement. I have seen many, like Chelsea, grow as writers through our back-to-back news writing courses together. Still others, I have shared the struggle that is understanding and crafting magazine/feature writing, then through news, and even into multimedia exploration.
No doubt so many have the skills; what they need to now cultivate is the need to know, the desire to report.
To try and foster that passion, today we watched “All the President’s Men,” and I could tell they were both impressed and petrified by the level of time, passion and commitment Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward put into their craft. Woodward digging through phone books trying to find one man. Bernstein waiting eight hours in a Florida office to look through records. The pair driving from home to home, seeking the source that would break open their story.
One student noted he could never be so pushy–asking questions over and over of those who clearly wish not to answer; walking into people’s homes without really being asked; bringing potential sources to near tears with persistence.
You can be that pushy, I told him. And sometimes you might have to be. To be a watchdog means being ferocious some of the time.
I know I can’t wave a magic wand and give them that passion, but I hope I can help them understand the importance of asking questions for those who may not have a voice, the need to provide answers for those who don’t know what to ask, and the honor of seeking truth with accuracy and fairness.
And it starts one Lantern story at a time.