As a television journalist, I was trained to remove myself and my emotions from stories I was reporting on. It’s a big industry no-no to shed a tear or express opinions. You are expected to be an objective storyteller that simply reports the facts for the viewers to draw their own conclusions and form their own opinions.
Just like the viewers, us journalists are human and, even though we are not permitted to show it, of course the stories we cover pull at our heartstrings at times. Now that I am a handful of years into the next phase of my career and left news reporting in my past, I’d like to take a look back and share one prime example I am especially proud of.
As a recent college grad, I accepted my first on-air job at a news station in Montgomery, Alabama. These entry-level jobs pay very little and it is difficult to make ends meet. I was assigned to front a piece titled “Living in Poverty.” I learned that one in three children live in poverty in the state of Alabama. I profiled a family of four who manage to live off of only $12,000 per year. It not only put my own life and hardships into perspective, but broadcasting this story made a world of difference for this low-income family.
Once this story aired, viewers contacted the station and the family to donate food and clothing. The woman I interviewed called me in tears of gratitude. Her daughter was a high school senior at the time and was offered a scholarship to attend Auburn University at Montgomery. All because of this news story.
That is the power of storytelling. I am proud of the award I won as a result of that story, but I am even moreso proud of the impact I made on someone else’s life, which in turn is impactful on my life. Even if you make a positive difference in just one person’s life, it’s worthwhile and very rewarding to be able to do that as a portion of your profession.