Have you ever been to the recently rebranded Museum of Pop Culture? Or under other circumstances encountered a prop from a cherished film? That sense of surrealism you felt, if you are like me, is exactly what I felt when I first entered the newsroom of the Bellevue Reporter.
It was the kind of thing I had seen 100 times on a screen but had yet to encounter in the flesh. However, if you are like me, you also felt the cheapness of the prop when you were in its presence. While still oddly euphoric, the illusion was shattered and you then knew, more than you already had, that this thing was not what it seemed at a distance. This is where the similarities between a movie prop and a newsroom end. It is the contrary; the newsroom is a more real and fulfilled place than I could have been led to believe from Hollywood.
I had been working towards that moment for a few years. I attended Tumwater High School after being moved to Olympia at the age of 15 and wrestled with the fact that the well-defined map of my life would become a hazy frontier upon graduation. I researched potential careers but reached no conclusions until my junior year at Tumwater, when it was suggested I try out writing for the student paper, The Talon.
Oddly enough, that was the first time I had even considered journalism as a profession. Not to say I thought little of it, just that I hadn’t considered it was something I could do. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but somehow concluded the only money I could make with that passion was in writing novels, or for film, or for TV, which to me sounds much like planning on becoming a rock star. I’m not saying one shouldn’t have dreams, but I was interested in something more stable. A dynamic job where I get to interview people and write important stories that would help my community go about their lives. I would do it for free.
I was briefly worried it sounded too good to be true, but after writing for The Talon for a week I was about as sure as I could be that this was what I wanted to do. I have been writing for student publications since then and have yet to be dissuaded to pursue the life of a journalist. In fact, I seem to grow more enchanted with it all the time.
I am currently the lead writer for the Northwest University student paper, also called The Talon, ironically enough, and can hardly wait to start writing for this paper as well. To support one’s community with quality news and stories, to work under dedicated and passionate journalists and to contribute to one of the pillars of democracy that is a free press, is as high a privilege as I can think of.
I will do my best to have earned it.
Jon Ladd is an intern for the Bellevue Reporter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for story ideas or just to say, “Hello.”