Survey Says! #whyJournalism

A recent question in our inbox asked, “What is it about journalism that you love? Why did you become a journalist?”

I began replying, looked at what I was writing, decided it was pretty dull and cast my net on Twitter where I asked #whyJournalism and linked to a simple Google form for people to answer.

Above is a collection of some of the answers we received. Some interesting replies not shown here include people motivated by specific events. For example, NBC’s Craig Kanalley points to 9/11 and his inspiration about how the press covered it. He posted about it on his Tumblr. Jay Corcoran, a documentary film maker, writes:

Inspired? The AIDS epidemic. I spent years watching my young talented friends die, shrouded in secrecy and shame, from complications from AIDS. To deal with my sadness, confusion and rage, I picked up a camera and documented the death of my dear friend, Tom McBride. The result became my first documentary film, Life and Death on the A-List, and I have never looked back.

What I love? To have people share their thoughts, ideas and intimate feelings with me on camera, and then shaping what they said or did and hopefully make something that is useful to others. There is nothing that fills me with more satisfaction and gratitude.

Many point to journalism as a calling or a mission. For example, Kenneth Rapoza writes:

I became a journalist before I became a journalist. Late 90s. Unemployed. Father unemployed. Mother, low skill worker. I had to leave college. I became angry and frustrated and heard a lot of people talking about how life just wasn’t fair. I became curious, asking why is that? I developed a sense of injustice and empathy for the underdog, because the underdog, I felt, was me. Fast forward to a college degree and adult life. You become a journalist because you are a sympathetic ear. You want to know what makes things tick. You’re intellectually curious. Journalism, done well, reminds me that I am part of this world.

Rayyan Sabet-Parry, a multimedia journalist at North Wales Weekly News, echoes this somewhat when he writes that journalism holds “up a mirror to the beautiful and the corrupt. It promotes transparency, openness and justice! It can change the world!”

Some seem to simply like the creative company and the opportunity to constantly learn each day.

Mashable’s Todd Olmstead writes, “Creative people inspire me and I’ve always wanted to be around them and learn from them as much as possible. Being a journalist allows me to do that and allows me to always be exploring.”

CBC Radio’s Jennifer Chen says, “I feel it’s a privilege to learn every day and be able to pass on that knowledge to others.”

And Lam Thuy Vo sent in this video about the world that opened up to her through her journalism career.

And then, there are and were the few who were inspired or pushed into journalism by their significant others. FJP contributor Daedalus Howell writes about his college girlfriend making him answer an ad for a reporter gig while UK tech journalist Mary Branscombe had a tech journalist boyfriend and thought if he could do it, she could too.

As for me and what would have been a lonely, singular — and by comparison quite boring — response:

I wanted to travel. I wanted to ask questions. I wanted to discover. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.

And I wanted to somehow combine audio, video, images and text into compelling storytelling.

And what I love about journalism is that all of that’s possible.

If you’re interested in reading all responses, you can do so here.

Images: Selected answers (with some edited in length) to why people became journalists and what they love about it.

Select any to embiggen.

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  1. two-ifbysea reblogged this from futurejournalismproject and added:
    Long post, but one of my favorites.
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  10. cherylynntsushima reblogged this from futurejournalismproject and added:
    I always loved hearing why my professors went (or happened to go) into journalism.
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    Survey Says! #whyJournalism
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