True Confession: My Passion is Journalism

Journalist Notebook

Ali Wade/Flickr

During a recent trip to Lafayette, La. I was asked by several of my colleagues why I became a journalist. It is a question that frequently arises these days, when the direction of media seems uncertain, news jobs are evolving or vanishing altogether, and salaries continue to dwindle. 

To be honest, I didn’t set out to become a journalist. Rather, I thought I would be a fiction writer and that my life would be spent typing out stories about characters that lived only in my mind, whose adventures had yet to unfold. Yet while I still love writing fiction, I also find that being one of the world’s watchdogs, chroniclers and storytellers has equal appeal.

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse

Robert Rex Jackson/Flickr

Some people have boldly stated that they look at my decision to go into the news industry as a foolish pursuit. Others call me altruistic, optimistic, a dreamer. I can happily say that I am all of those things. After all, anyone who has known me for even a brief while has probably heard me quote one of my favorite people in history, a man who built his legacy on dreams, Walt Disney. He once said that “Dreams do come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Over the years, those words have become my mantra.

What most people will never understand is that becoming a journalist is similar to joining the military or the clergy, it is a calling that takes dedication, perseverance and passion. Journalism is also one of those occupations that can transport you from one pocket of America to another, and sometimes even to another nation, on a moment’s notice.  At times the pursuit of truth and “the rest of the story” (as NPR‘s Paul Harvey would say) can also mean long hours, sacrifice, and lots of hard work. It isn’t for everyone. But for those who have been bitten by the journalism bug, it is an addiction for which there is no substitute.

However, optimist that I am, I also know that in today’s global society, journalism is everywhere. Sure, newspapers have struggled, newsrooms have reduced their staff, and the debate about how to monetize the Web and keep traditional news outlets alive is still a constant source of discussion. But the reality is that news is no longer relegated just to newsprint and magazines, but it is also on the radio, television, billboards, computer screens, and on mobile devices.

Young Journalists

Shawn Calhoun/Flickr

That’s why there continues to be a growing demand for strong, succinct, honest writers that can create content for multiple platforms using a variety of mediums. In my job as a digital managing editor, I wear enough hats for a small army of folks. On any given day, I may shoot and edit video, conduct interviews, write copy, edit my staff’s content, mentor new writers, photograph stories, manage websites, create contests, conduct meetings, solicit interns, and more. Sometimes even I am boggled by how vast the list of my duties can be.

The simple fact of the matter is, however, that regardless of how busy I am or how insane my schedule becomes, my passion is journalism and I can’t see myself doing anything else. For those like me, we’ve turned multitasking into an art form so we can still find time to create new goals, chase old dreams, and support the organizations we love. This calling can push us to the breaking point, but somehow we survive, becoming stronger and more determined than ever to tell the stories that matter.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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