This weekend, I expertly neglected all of my responsibilities for a class trip down to Washington, D.C. with my senior project peers and professor. It was an interesting and busy weekend (to say the least), but it also reinforced some of the most key journalism principles.
The thing about working in an industry that is going through so much growth is that it is easy for our core knowledge to get lost in the shuffle. Between learning about new technologies, finding better ways to reach elusive audiences and generally just scrambling to keep up with the pace of today's media, oftentimes our focus shifts to absorbing new things instead of reaffirming what we already know.
But outside of the familiar setting of Ramapo College or our hometowns, my classmates and I had to rely on the tools of the trade and the series of skills we had so carefully developed over the course of our journalism careers. Interviewing strangers around the National Mall, we had to channel our instincts about making conversation on the fly. Immersing ourselves in the local communities around the city, we needed to recall the importance of observation and description. Hunting for story ideas in unfamiliar places, we were required to think critically, creatively and inquisitively.
As our professor reminded us, writing isn't something that can be easily taught; rather, it takes time and much practice to get better at what we do. That sentiment was very apparent during our trip. Stepping out of our comfort zones as reporters, we couldn't sweep the tenets of journalism under the rug in favor of learning new and demanding things. In fact, going back to basics-talking to people, looking around, questioning everything, being straightforward-was refreshing.
Journalists aren't like accountants, for example: we don't have a predetermined arsenal of formulas that will last us our entire careers. (No offense to those who are undertaking the very noble job of accounting, though.) After the ABCs of journalism (quite literally, accuracy, brevity and clarity) are ingrained in all of us early on, we are often tasked with the difficult job of keeping up with the journalism Joneses, and doing so makes the business change regularly. We aren't reminded of our roots, so to speak, often enough.
In journalism, the power of the "field trip" doesn't go unnoticed. Whether it is a long excursion, a weekend away like our D.C. trip, or just a day out of the office, there is ample opportunity to learn new things and be challenged.
Speaking of, did you see that The Ramapo News spent a day off campus working with Waldwick High School journalism students? Now that was a learning experience.
That's all the news for now-Nicole