Aspiring journalists find road rocky in pursuit of truth

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For years now, Appen Media has taken great pride in the responsibility of hosting college journalism interns for the summer. We did so again this summer, taking on three interns from the University of Georgia, and one from New York University – a Cambridge High School graduate.

We give aspiring young journalists a chance to work in a real newsroom, hone their skills and build their resumes. They learn from industry veterans like Hatcher Hurd and Pat Fox, and from journalists a few years ahead of them making a name for themselves and covering their beats.

From Appen Media’s standpoint, we love the program. We consider it part of our responsibility to the industry to do our part to help groom future professionals. All media needs to ensure we continue to have experienced professionals writing our news and keeping our communities informed.

In fact, the director of our internship program is a “graduate” herself, Kathleen Sturgeon, having spent the summer of 2013 with us from the University of West Georgia.

Upon graduation she joined our staff full time and is now the editor of the Forsyth Herald and all of our community guidebooks. She was recently bestowed the honor of the 2017 Emerging Journalist award by the Georgia Press Association.

To be sure, these young writers teach us a thing or two as well. We learn from them new and exciting trends in the industry, what makes them tick, and why after countless voices saying their field of work is dead they keep at it.

I admire them for their tenacity.

This summer has presented us with a new set of challenges, as we ourselves are still adjusting to unexpected changes.

Every day the airwaves are filled with vile nonsense about how the media is fake news and lacks professionalism.

It is hard to teach these young people about a news world that is constantly evolving and under assault and at the same time ensuring them that their work is important and appreciated.

How do we explain to these young minds that facts matter when their elected officials say otherwise? How do we explain to them that the truth is all that counts, when in fact, today the truth depends on the eye of the beholder?

One of our interns recently wrote an opinion piece about politicians both literally and metaphorically assaulting journalists, and I was shocked at the feedback from readers defending the politicians. It was disgusting, really.

She, a 19 year old, is learning the practice of the Fourth Estate, the pillar of democracy that keeps all others standing, and because she has the audacity to want to bring light to darkness, she has an alternative agenda? She is the one who needs to tone down the rhetoric and get in line?

Shame on you.

I for one stand with the naive, the young, and the impressionable. Because if we can't teach them the ways of the world without opening our own eyes to what we don't understand then we've already lost.


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