“Why am I a journalist?”
I ask this question to myself almost every morning, and I still cannot come up with a singular response.
Journalism is something complex, ever-changing and it can impact everyone from my mother at home, whom I sparingly share stories with, or the Iowa State student who happened to pick up a paper for the day.
I don’t write for either of those people. At the end of the day, I write for myself.
Growing up, I saw platforms where people openly shared their opinions, spoke out when they saw things wrong and tried to implement change in their everyday life, and I wanted one of those platforms.
I come from a family where my mother would encourage me to speak up and let my voice be heard, and I am forever grateful for her raising me that way. I wanted to be one of those people who could speak on a news channel, and people cared about what they had to say.
I wanted people to recognize me, trust me and want to listen to what I have to say.
On some days, journalism is a stepping stone to put myself in that position.
On others, it keeps me up at night worrying if what I write is even worth it.
Do I enjoy writing about topics that may make me unpopular? No. Do I derive happiness from spotlighting others faults and weaknesses? No. Is there some greater purpose that I believe I am achieving by writing stories? Honestly, no.
In reality, journalists aren’t big, scary monsters, frothing at the mouth to get the next “big scoop.” We are normal people following their passion and trying to serve the public.
These stereotypes surrounding journalism scare me, and I fear people categorize me that way.
I worry that what I am doing is causing more harm than good, I worry that readers don’t care about my stories, and I worry that my mother and the ones I care about are not proud of what I write.
Journalism makes me human and forces me to experience and face feelings I often don’t want to face. I struggle with those thoughts on a daily basis, but I keep writing and reporting, hoping that one day I’ll end up where I’m supposed to be.
Today, I am Jacob Smith, News Editor of Local and Campus Politics for the Iowa State Daily. Tomorrow, I’m not too sure what I will be doing.
My mother used to laugh at me when I was younger and I would tell her I planned on moving to New York, living in a tiny apartment and becoming a journalist.
Well, jokes on you, Mom. I’m one step closer to doing that.