But why…?

4 Mar

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In December and January I applied to two universities in the States to do my Master’s in Journalism. (I’ll only hear in April … hold thumbs!) In my applications, I had to write several essays which involved some serious thinking. Initially the thought of writing the essays gave me the grills. But after a while I realised it was a great opportunity to put down in words the reasons behind some of the decisions I’ve made in the last few years. This is what I love about writing… you sit down, and words come out and a few hours later you realise how much insight those words give you into how you really feel.

This is part of my essay detailing why I decided to become a journalist.

When I was a teenager, there was a part of me that feared that the older I got, the less inspired or excited I would become by things. I thought this would happen because of the mundane details of life, the administrative and inconsequential things that you have to get through. (Today I have to renew my driver’s license, tomorrow I must cook dinner). They might be necessary to survive, but it worried me that they might take away my ability to concentrate on the beautiful and unreal, the awesome and the unknown. I remember first thinking this when I was in high school – planning a year overseas in Europe. I felt sadness brought on by my inability to be filled with the same kind of childish trepidation that used to accompany trips, unknowns – adventures. I feared that this was the start of a disintegration of my wonder and curiosity.

I used to think that I chose to study Journalism because I loved to write. It is true that I love to write, and I do think I have some skill. But there’s always been something more behind my choice that I’ve struggled to articulate. I hope that I can do so now.

I chose journalism because I was afraid I would spend my life not being able to write, and not being able to ask and answer the questions spinning around in my head. How unbearable! I never want to stop asking questions. I never want to stop thinking about something seemingly random, and find out about it. I want to spend my life trying to say things, write things that excite me, and interest me. I never want to stop being excited or inspired.

And I want to be able to articulate that excitement in a way that engages readers – whether it excites them, or enrages them. We evolve by pushing the boundaries of what we know, constantly exploring and widening our horizons.
In the past year, I have received a great deal of practical training both in and outside of my university’s journalism school. I was part of a team that covered the World Editors Forum and World Associated Newspapers Congress in Cape Town. At school, I participated in the managing, editing and production of the journalism school’s newspaper and website. Throughout the year I have written a number of features on subjects which interested me. I am currently employed at Flow SA, a company who have offered me a seven month contract until June 2008. I chose to work at Flow for two reasons: firstly because the experience I will get there is extensive. I will be doing a range of things, including writing, blogging, reporting, designing and publishing. I think that work of this kind will serve as a good, basic foundation for what I hope to do when I finish my Masters; that is, social commentary and feature writing. The second reason I chose to work there is that both my bosses (who are sisters) completed their Masters of Journalism in the U.S., and fully support my application.

I feel that by doing my Masters at the Graduate School of Journalism I will become a more relevant journalist: one whose commentary has meaning and impact, and whose writing will help promote the circulation of ideas in a democracy. I would like to be that type of journalist when I return to South Africa.

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One Response to “But why…?”

  1. Tara March 17, 2008 at 10:48 pm #

    Go for it, Jax! South Africa will miss you – but hopefully only briefly while you finish your studies. Your experience overseas will make you love life more than ever.

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