Above: Super-J students take in the city skyline with their devices of choice. Photo by Francesca Fontana.
Story by Srushti Kamat
The tall, looming buildings of New York City welcomed 13 University of Oregon’s undergraduate journalism students. With a mixture of excitement and nervousness, we attended informational sessions at over 20 media organizations around the city in the span of five days. During the course of the week, we had countless robust conversations that covered everything from ethics and trauma to data and technology.
In the historic halls of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, we witnessed a celebration of the sacrifice, dedication and significance of journalists present and past. We sensed the profound sense of purpose that compelled these professionals to challenge their own notions of truth, trust and how rhetoric frames people, communities and issues. They want to sustain the value of storytelling and reporting, and it shows in their work and efforts to engage.
In the office of Storyful, a social insights and video company, the flow of digital video is analyzed and examined for credibility, acting as a filter for the large news organizations. Here, we learned that sometimes an innovative business model makes the best navigation point in our rapidly changing world. Expanding how we think is the key to moving forward.
We all agreed that one week was not enough, as we just managed to scrape the surface of some of the big questions media professionals face every day. But during the short trip, we learned from each other too. Our group boasted a myriad of backgrounds and a wide range of interests in news, video, broadcast and photojournalism. As we adapted to each other’s skillsets, we were constantly intrigued and impressed by the questions and insights our peers posed, shared in each other’s genuine curiosity and were buoyed by our common drive toward what may seem like a daunting professional future.
Regardless of size, historic presence or specialization, every organization we visited during the week seemed to confirm the wisdom of one piece of advice: Take the risk. From the COO of Blue Chalk Media to the editors at BuzzFeed News, our newfound mentors assured us that the confidence to chase uncertainty is key for fresh graduates entering the industry. Education is a multi-dimensional journey, they said, and the path is different for different people. But we all learn the most when we have a myriad of experiences, when we expose ourselves to a cluster of realities, and when we open our thoughts to new people and places.
The New York trip gave us an education that went far beyond classroom boundaries. The professional insights we gained gave us a lens into industry trends and dilemmas that, as students, we don’t yet understand. Journalism is evolving and redefining what it means to become a seeker of truth. But I now feel reassured that the changes have been for the better. There has never been a better time for good, courageous work.
This awareness gave the 13 of us a new perspective on the purpose of the industry we are planning to soon enter. The future of journalism is a place of immense opportunity, and taking our places in that field after graduation will be the next step in what promises to be a long but exciting journey.