The depiction of a middle schooler watching All the President’s Men in awe would be cliché. So instead I’ll jump to Dec. 31, 2014.
I was a sophomore journalism student manning the Arizona Republic’s breaking news desk, casually scrolling through Tweetdeck for anything important while keeping an eye on the 911 dispatches. There was an hour left on my shift when a distorted voice cracked from the police scanner — “998.” An officer had been shot.
The late-afternoon lull switched to an adrenaline-fueled flurry. With a phone tucked behind my ear, juggling between the on-scene reporter and Phoenix Police spokesman, I wrote the news quickly as a senior reporter stood directly behind me line editing. Who needs deep throat? This was my Watergate.
Since that particular New Year’s Eve, I’ve walked through a field of towering wind turbines in Nicaragua, investigated civil rights violations against Arizona’s English Language Learners, helped start a bridal magazine in London and chased surprisingly quick senators through the Capitol’s maze-like halls.
As a business reporter for the Denver Post, I learned how to parse complicated and controversial stories, give proper weight to all sides of a story and report from too-hot-for-comfortable hearing rooms overflowing with angry people. As an education, tribal and political beat reporter for Cronkite News, I learned how to turn dailies, dig through depths of data and commit to a story, even if it meant risking frostbite in a blizzard. As a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, I learned how to write enterprises, report in foreign countries and create interactive data visualizations.
But skills are pointless without the proper motivation so back to the wide-eyed middle schooler gushing over investigative reporting for the first time. Journalism is more than the adrenaline rush of covering a good story. It’s about helping others — whether it’s a kid sitting in a dilapidated tribal school or a mother standing in line for hours waiting to vote. That’s what I saw Bernstein and Woodward doing that day in seventh grade English and that’s what I’ve wanted to do ever since.
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