Guest essay: Journalism builds better communities by exposing stories separate from our own – Opinion – MPNnow

My name is Nina Listro. I am a senior at the University of Rochester, where I study journalism, and I am currently a reporting intern here at the Daily Messenger.

Since high school, I have been a fairly active reader of newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, National Geographic and smaller, local publications from both Rochester and my home of Martha’s Vineyard. It was through these works that I learned about the world around me and opened my eyes to information I might not have had access to otherwise.

So when I entered my undergraduate career at the University of Rochester and was faced with the daunting decision of which field of study I was going to focus in, I reflected upon the profound effect journalism had had on me. Through this reflection, I decided I wanted to be the one who sought out stories and shared them with others; I decided I wanted to be a journalist.

While my coursework was extremely valuable in terms of my growth as a writer, I thought it would be beneficial to pursue a real-world experience, one where I would learn what it meant to be a journalist in the 21st century. I picked up this reporting internship at the Daily Messenger as a way to do so.

After three and a half years of learning in a strictly academic setting, I viewed journalism mostly in terms of its concrete definition: the activity of gathering, assessing, creating and presenting news stories (American Press Institute). I quickly learned through this internship, however, that there is so much more to the subject; the true definition reaches a human level.

I began talking to people, and I mean actually talking. Nearly all of the interviews I conducted were either over the phone or in person. In an age where so much of our communication takes place through a faceless, voiceless screen, it was refreshing to engage with strangers in a more personal manner. To be honest, it often didn’t even feel like I was conducting an interview. Instead, it felt more like a casual conversation — an opportunity for me to listen to someone’s story.

Storytelling, in my opinion, is a form of education. Through listening to the stories my sources had to tell me, not only did I get to know them better as people, but they also became my teacher in some form or another. They taught me that small acts of kindness leave more of an impact than you might think, that working as a team can lead to some incredible accomplishments and that social interaction builds community.

Now these concepts might seem commonsensical, but I also believe we can easily lose sight of them when we’re so caught up in our own lives. This is why I believe journalism, and storytelling in general, is so important — it reminds us of a world, a community, outside of our own.

So I encourage all of you not only to keep up to date with the latest news but to also seek out these stories on your own accord. Talk to someone you haven’t spoken with before; ask them…

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