Journalists are travelers

At the very second that I am writing this, there are 7,287,148,722 people in the world. That is over 7 billion people with unique experiences, perspectives and goals. 7 billion different people I could interact with, 7 billion opportunities to learn something new.

If I don’t spend the rest of my life meeting as many of them as I can, I don’t think I will be living well enough.

In my 20 years, I have interacted with a tiny fraction these 7 billion people, most from either the suburb of Chicago that I grew up in or the college town of Columbia, Missouri. There is so much yet to be experienced.

Every day is an opportunity to learn something new, which is a lesson that I’ve learned most powerfully by studying journalism. I couldn’t imagine a better way to immerse into the lives and cultures of others than through this career I’ve chosen.

For every story, for every interview, a journalist has to put aside their personal experience and try to see the world through another person’s lens. The surest way to test your level of ignorance on a subject is to try to write about it— if you don’t know what you are talking about, it’s obvious in your writing. For this reason, journalism forces me to really delve into a new subject— to really learn. Also, journalism means accepting that there are things you don’t yet know, or that you are wrong about. You regularly interact with experts in their field and rethink your original knowledge. Believing yourself infallible is a cardinal sin in a profession where every mistake reflects poorly on your entire publication and profession.

Every traveler is a journalist and every journalist is a traveler, I think. Both enter the home and life and milieu of another person. Both have a desire to understand, to submerse in another culture until they have learned, unlearned, and relearned everything they can. For me, journalism school was the start. But the wonderful thing about learning— and travelling— is that once the spark has been lit, the flame never truly goes out. I plan to learn, relearn, and unlearn until the day I die.

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