Why I still love journalism

When I first began college, I looked for a church. At the third one I visited, the large church held a college Sunday School before the main service. One of the adult men helping with the group joined my group of friends and asked us all our names and majors. When my turn came, I introduced myself and said I was studying journalism.

“That’s a dying field,” he replied.

I was shocked. I literally did not know what to say, and he made no attempt to redeem himself. Instead of welcoming me as a new student and encouraging my interests, he unapologetically decried my dream.

Partly due to this shocking and discouraging encounter, I did not return to that church. I did continue to pursue my journalistic dream, however, by joining the school paper, where I later became News Editor.

This summer I am interning at a magazine called Today’s Christian Woman to broaden my journalistic experience since I had previously only done News. Part of my role as an intern is to look for excerpts from books, which we then post online to stamp our approval for that author’s work. In doing so, I recently read “Starting Something New,” a non-fiction book by Beth A. Booram, a spiritual director living in Indiana.

Booram walks the reader through 14 steps of “birthing a dream” from the idea, through discernment and waiting, to birthing and sustaining. She includes helpful reflection exercises at the end of each chapter to help the reader process God’s leading in his or her dream.

My dream centers on the Democratic Republic of Congo and journalism. God has made this clear in many ways this past year, and those two things immediately came to mind yet again as I read Booram’s questions at the end of her second chapter, “Brooding”: What do you spend the most time doing? What do you spend the most time thinking about? Where do you find yourself giving the most effort or caring the most? What excites you? Causes you the greatest joy and satisfaction?

(Racial reconciliation also emerged as an answer to her questions about where I put my emotional energy.)

To the man at that church I visited, I know journalism is changing. For example, while I love the look of ink on my hands from a print newspaper, I recognize that online is taking over print as a primary news source– in fact, I contribute to that! Yes, print journalism is not as popular as it used to be, but News itself, though evolving, is still thriving and will always exist in any democratic society. Perhaps rather than dying or even going through a midlife crisis, journalism is merely going through puberty.

I also recognize that journalism does not pay well. Every journalist knows this, but we report because we love the field. I don’t know what the man’s main job was, but if he was a pastor at the church, he may not have made bank either. Church ministry is not an easy field, so I would hope that the man would understand loving a career for what it is and its purpose rather than the monetary benefits it produces.

In all honesty, I had a rough year being News Editor for my paper this past year. I had a love-hate relationship with the job, but after having gone through all the late work nights and stressful meetings and decisions we as a staff overcame, I do not regret it. I am proud of our team, and I will miss being a part of it next year.

When in the rough times this past year, I almost considered leaving journalism, but that didn’t feel right. I know God has called me to journalism in some form, and I want to honor that. I know I will thrive living out my God-given dream and call: journalism in the DRC.

I don’t have every aspect of this dream spelled out, but part of having a dream is the anticipation of it. Butterflies flutter around my core because I know I’m going to be doing what I love even if I don’t know what that looks like yet. My dream’s form may change over time, and that’s okay too. Currently the thrill is in the anticipation and preparation, in the trust I have that God will work it out for His glory.