I may not be a cartoonist, but I certainly sorrow after today’s attack on journalism in Paris.
As I finalized my video submission for my 2015 Win A Trip with Nick Kristof application this morning, I caught wind of the Charlie Hebdo shooting and couldn’t help but click the “Submit” button with even greater pride than I had been anticipating.
This response is not out of character for me. Adversity has pushed me into success for my entire life. An exceptionally nasty divorce in middle school propelled me into straight-A studies. My family’s resulting low-income status pushed me to help organize holiday packages for those in similar financial situations. And these minor setbacks have led me to empathize with chronic despair and poverty on a global level.
But it can still be scary to shout “Je suis Charlie Hebdo” after an attack of this magnitude.
Like Charlie Hebdo and many outlets around the world, I want to report on the politically tough issues. But I also understand that, as a public voice, journalists assume very vulnerable positions.
However, these moments of adversity–of terror–evoke a peculiar sense of purpose in me. I may feel discouraged about the situation or about the political systems which allow hardline extremists to develop…
But I have never felt more empowered by the importance and resilience of journalism.
I am reminded that when stories are hard–or scary–to tell, it is often those stories that are in most need of being shared. Some people will ignore, criticize and even attack these stories and these truths, but that is only a testament to their priority.
The stories that Nick Kristof and his 2015 Win A Trip winner will be reporting come early summer will fall into this category. They won’t necessarily be easy to find, fun to report or neatly tied up with a bow come deadline. But they will be real and they will be important.
So, crazy as it sounds, tonight I am as thankful for adversity in the face of journalism as I am for Nick Kristof and the NYT’s Win A Trip opportunity extended to collegiate journalists.
Because of the former, I am inspired and emboldened to pursue the latter.
My 2015 Win A Trip with Nick Kristof essay and video submission: