My Draw to Journalism

Nancy headshot

Nancy Zhang, Reporter

I have aspired to be a journalist since I was in primary school.

However, the turning point in my journalistic experiences was when I had the privilege to work as an intern journalist in the local TV station of my hometown, Lanzhou, China, last winter break. This incredible internship experience was one of the pivotal reasons that led me to this my passion for journalism and desire to learn more about journalistic writing.

The complex  situations I came across made me realize that I am still lacking much knowledge on how to become the best journalist that I can be. During the internship, I assisted my supervisor in conducting over 150 interviews and edited all the reports. Our reporting mainly focused on local people’s daily problems to the public.

Even though I helped some people solve their problems, I still met a lot of challenges. One day, I answered a phone call from a single mother, who claimed she bought a new heater one week ago and that the heater that did not work at all. She had allegedly called the retailer twenty times a day for the whole week and hoped that they could fix the heater. A repairman did come over, but the only thing he did was accuse the woman of breaking the heater and left without repairing the heater.

When I arrived her house, I saw a little boy sitting in the coach with a red face. It was so cold, I did not feel any temperature difference from outside. I started to ask the details and the woman could not stop crying because she was so worried about her boy would get sick in such cold weather. She begged me to report her suffering so that public attention and relevant government agencies could help her through the situation. I wrote a report that fully showed my sympathy for the poor family and expressed my anger to the retailer. After my adviser read it, she returned it to me with one sentence “Never say how deep the river is when you are standing on side”. She also told me “You even did not go and meet the retailer. You was totally put yourself on the side of the woman only because she was weak. You ignored that as a journalist, your responsibility was not to express sympathy, but to collect the information, value the content and report the truth to the public objectively.”

At that moment, I realized that to be a journalist is not simply to write about how I see the situation. Being a good journalist requires one to collect information specifically, value content, and report objectively.  Therefore, I am eager to expand my knowledge about journalism to help me in my future truth seeking endeavors.

 Nancy Zhang is a student at the University of Washington studying journalism and communications.

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