Writer’s Block, Rainy Days, and 1,000 Followers

It’s Friday afternoon. It’s hot outside—almost unbearably so—but inside, with my ceiling fan whirring away, it doesn’t seem so bad. I’m sitting at my desk, Harry Styles blasting as my cat is curled up against the side of my laptop. Beside my laptop, my phone sits, silent, and on the floor near my feet my purse is still packed from my day at work. The moment, though peaceful, is fleeting. Now Michael Bublé is playing; my plants have caught my eye, and it has occurred to me that I need to water them.

My cat was fascinated with the way the water poured from the cup when I watered my cactus. Maybe she recognized the water as the same liquid she sips; or maybe she was wondering why I was paying attention to my cactus and not to her. In any case, my plants are watered, Spotify has turned to advertisements instead of music, and my cat is now asleep in a wicker basket on my floor.

This week has been busy for me—enjoyable, but busy nonetheless. Now that I have an entire weekend stretched out in front of me, I’m not sure what I’ll do with my time. I’ll tackle my to-do lists, of course, and try to relax.

It’s the next day now—I forgot I started writing this last night until I saw the untitled document sitting in my Google Drive. It’s still hot today, but the forecast is calling for thunderstorms for the next three days.

I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot recently. I have so many ideas, but, to quote John Green, they are stars that I can’t fathom into constellations. I got a custom domain last week—changing my URL from sherinaspeaks.wordpress.com to sherinaspeaks.com—and I guess for some reason I thought that when I got a custom domain, I’d become a blogger extraordinaire. But while the domain has made me incredibly proud of the progress of my blog thus far (I recently hit over 1,000 followers, something which is still sinking in) it hasn’t catapulted me to a place where I have gazillions of blog ideas, or even the motivation to write those ideas.

The reason for my aforementioned busy-ness is that I’ve been working full-time hours as a communications assistant at a local not-for-profit organization. I love my job—it allows me to put into practice all of the things I learned this year in journalism school. But the fact that I am writing all day at work makes it that much harder for me to come home and write more for this blog; switching my “work brain” off, and my “blog brain” on, has proven difficult for me.

So, yesterday, as I stared at an empty document, I decided to get over it and just write. Something is better than nothing; as many writers have noted, you can’t edit a blank page. Sometimes you have to get over the expectation that amazing sentences are going to pour out of you, that you’ll write the best thing you’ve ever created. Sometimes, you just have to write. Write, when you think you are too busy to write. Write, when you feel like your blog is growing but you are standing still because you haven’t written a new post. Write when the world doesn’t make sense; write when it makes perfect sense. Write, and write, and write, and eventually, you’ll find the words you’ve been looking for.

Somehow through writing this jumbled post, riddled with life updates, blog updates and minutiae details about my day, I found the words I wanted to say: which are that life is pretty good right now (on this blog, and also outside of it). Thank you to my 1,000+ followers, thank you to my 2013-self for starting this blog, thank you to you for reading this. Now that I’ve written this post, I am itching to write more—but first, I will enjoy the sun before it turns to rain (as I am editing this, it has started to rain—making me glad I wrote about the sun while it lasted).

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That Time I Saw Hamilton

Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now, I felt like singing at the top of my lungs. I was standing with my family outside the PrivateBank Theater in Chicago, staring up at a row of gold lights. On the windows above, eight letters spelled out the soundtrack of the past five months of my life: H-A-M-I-L-T-O-N.

Hamilton, in case you aren’t familiar, is a musical about Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father and America’s first Treasury Secretary. Through hip-hop and rap music, the musical takes you through Hamilton’s journey to America and his so-called “rise to the top.” It explores his relationships, from marrying Eliza Schuyler to sending love letters to her sister Angelica and having an affair with Maria Reynolds. Hamilton’s friendships are also shown—we see, for example, both the moment he first meets Aaron Burr and the moment when Burr shoots him in a duel.

My sister got into the Hamilton soundtrack long before I did. When I finally started listening to it, she guided me through the history behind the songs and told me which ones I’d probably like the best (she was right—she almost always is). Once I got to know the songs, we’d sing together every chance we got. We’d discussed the moment we’d get to see the show so many times and yet, as we stood outside the theatre, it hadn’t really sunk in.

The excitement of the other people in line surprised me. Everyone wanted to take a picture with the iconic image—the distressed golden background with the four-pointed star and the cloaked figure of Alexander Hamilton raising his arm to the sky. I knew Hamilton was a big deal, of course; it’s won 11 Tonys. But I guess I never really considered that the hype, so to speak, existed outside the bubble of myself, my sister, and my best friend who also loves the musical.

The inside of the theatre looked similar to the outside, with shining lights and golden decor. Family close in tow, I evaded the monstrously long merch lines and headed for the balcony. Miraculously, on the way up there was a merch station with no line —I purchased a set of postcards (already having a t-shirt from my aforementioned Hamilton-obsessed best friend). As I climbed the stairs to the balcony, my excitement was climbing, too. By the time I was in my seat with a Playbill in my hand, I had a smile permanently plastered on my face.

hamiltonplaybill (1)

My first thought was that the stage looked exactly like the photos I’d seen of it. Two circular parts of the stage floor, which would rotate during the show, sat still—I didn’t. I bounced around, unable to contain my excitement. Soon, the lights faded and, as a hush fell over the theatre, a voice spoke. In a British accent that the crowd would come to love, “our” King, as in King George, told us to turn off our phones and enjoy “my show.” This set the scene for the show magnificently. Before I knew it, that signature opening— if you know it, you’ll know—was playing, and Aaron Burr was onstage, introducing, in song, none other than Mr. Alexander Hamilton.

The musical was absolutely amazing. Hearing the music live gave me goosebumps—the orchestra, the singers—and seeing the actions and choreography accompanying the music was phenomenal. I loved seeing the story I’d come to love played out visually: watching as Hamilton proclaimed that he’d never throw away his shot and seeing Alexander and Eliza meet (and then seeing that entire scene again from Angelica’s point of view).

I love Hamilton not just because of the music, plot or characters, though these are all things I love about it; I also love the story of how the musical came to be. Lin-Manuel Miranda was on vacation in Mexico and, upon reading Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton, immediately connected the way Hamilton wrote his way off an Island to America to an arc that would fit in a hip-hop album. Miranda already had a successful musical, In The Heights; and, at first, he envisioned Hamilton as a mixtape. But it grew into a musical—a crazy successful one, at that.

Many people compare Lin-Manuel Miranda to Alexander Hamilton. Both men were and are prolific writers—“Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” —and both work, to use a song title from the musical, Non-Stop. What especially inspires me about the musical is that it started with a simple idea and it grew into something incredible.

As night fell on the day I saw Hamilton, I sat down in my Chicago hotel room to watch TV with my parents. It just so happened that we stumbled upon the episode of Modern Family where Lin-Manuel Miranda guest-stars (crazy coincidence, right?). He was already a Tony winner when he appeared on the show, but he has still grown so much since then.

All in all, seeing Hamilton was an amazing experience. If anything, my obsession has grown since seeing it—I still listen to the soundtrack on almost a daily basis. But now, I can envision the scenes from the musical in my head; I see the costumes, the facial expressions, the dancing, everything. And for that, I feel pretty lucky.

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A Weekend in the Windy City

On the weekend I went to Chicago with my family. I’m home now, but part of me still feels like I’m in the windy city — steps away from shopping on the Magnificent Mile, walking in Millennium Park and alongside Lake Michigan. I’ve been to Chicago twice now, and there’s something indescribable about the city that I just love.

This visit was made even more special because I had the opportunity to see Hamilton, AKA the best two hours and 45 minutes of my life. I think that experience warrants a separate post, but as you read on, remember that more is coming. I can’t stop thinking about Hamilton, so I won’t stop talking (and writing) about it. If you can’t tell, that’s kind of my unofficial blog mandate.

It was hard for me to narrow down photos to include in this post, but I’ve selected a group of photos that, to me, capture that indescribable feeling about my visit to Chicago. It’s the ornate architecture juxtaposed against the trees in the park; it’s the tourists milling around the stainless steel Bean and the locals jogging past Lake Michigan on a sunny morning. It’s all of these things, and more. There’s always more. But for now, here are some of my favourite photos. Enjoy!

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4 Things I Learned In My First Year of Journalism School

I recently wrapped up my first year of journalism school. It went by so quickly, and although it was challenging I had a great year. In some other blog posts where  I’ve mentioned my journalism experiences, some commenters have been curious about the program. And, seeing as I’ve interacted with some bloggers who are also either aspiring or current journalism students, I decided to write a post about four of the many things I have learned this year. If you’re curious about anything else, feel free to ask in the comments!

I took these photos in the morning of Nov. 9, just before I went out to interview people for my article about the election results. 

1. As a journalist, you have the opportunity to witness history.

I didn’t have any journalism exams this year; instead, we had “Story Days”; four or five days throughout the semester where we had to conduct interviews, take photos, record audio… to file by 5:30 p.m. the same day. One story day in first semester fell on Nov. 9, the day after the U.S. election. I was planning to write about Hillary Clinton becoming the first female president; but I ended up getting people’s reactions to Donald Trump winning the election.

Even though I wasn’t able to add my personal opinion in my article (I saved that for a blog post that I wrote a few days later) it was still an incredible feeling to be writing the same story that other journalists all over the world were writing. Witnessing Trump’s historical victory through writing an article about it was a really cool moment in my first year of studying journalism.

I took tons of pictures of the CN Tower this year, but this is one of my favourite shots. 

2. Get photo composition right in the moment.

I learned pretty early on this year that heavy photo editing is frowned upon in journalism because it means altering the reality of an image. Not relying on editing or filters after the fact means it’s important to pay attention to compositional elements when taking the photo. I took most of my photos horizontally, and tried to remember elements like rule of thirds, lines, and framing. Thinking of these things when taking photos — and taking multiple shots instead of just one — helps you take good photos, without needing to edit them afterwards.

OK, this photo is vertical (and slightly edited). But, hey, artistic rules are meant to be broken… right?

3. Forget “Less is more” when it comes to gathering material.

The adage “Less is more” may be true for word counts due to readers’ increasingly shortening attention spans, but it doesn’t ring true for the process that comes before writing. My journalism professors gave us guidelines on how many voices to include in our stories; often we’d need at least four.

However, this didn’t just mean going out, interviewing four people, and calling it a day. Four voices means four good voices who have interesting stories to tell. This means getting more interviews than required so that you can narrow it down to the best ones. As one professor said in our last lecture, you know you’ve done your job well when you have good quotes on the cutting board.

The same thing can be said of research, and even emailing sources; I remember one story day where I was looking for an expert in war journalism. I reached out to several war journalists, but ended up only hearing back from one. If I had only contacted one person, I probably wouldn’t have had a quote to include in my article.

Toronto has no shortage of cool buildings to photograph!

4. You can do so many cool things with a journalism degree — and you don’t have to wait to graduate to get started.

When I reflect back on this year, I wrote a lot of things that I’m really proud of. For one of my last story days I pitched a story about press freedom on campus since there had been some incidents where student journalists were denied entry to on-campus events. This was a story that was important to me, and it ended up being my favourite article that I wrote this year. Having that opportunity to choose the story I wanted to cover has made me even more excited to branch out into other types of news writing and to continue pitching my original ideas.

And that was just for an in-class assignment — outside of class, there are so many interesting opportunities, from writing for on-campus publications to working on your own journalism-related projects. Working towards a degree in journalism is exciting because you don’t just get to do “real” journalism once you graduate; you get to do it while you’re in school!

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I Loved American Idol, But I Don’t Want It To Be Revived

I have written this before on my blog, but in case you don’t remember every post I’ve ever written I’ll say it again: I used to be a huge fan of American Idol. So much so, in fact, that I regularly took notes on the episodes (examples here). You may think, then, that as a prior Idol fanatic, I would be overjoyed at the recent speculation that the show will be revived. I am actually not overjoyed at this news—if anything, I am skeptical and unimpressed.

I don’t have anything against revivals in general. I like the idea of taking something from the past and repackaging it for the current generation; Netflix’s Riverdale, a dark twist on the Archie universe, is a good example of this. Despite being created in 1941, the Archie characters have a certain timeless appeal. There will always be an appetite for classic all-American high school characters, and much of the drama Archie and his friends faced in the comics translates well into today’s world.

American Idol is different. I’d say that the main “character” on the show is well-known pessimist Simon Cowell—but he left in 2010. When I was younger and heavily invested in the show, my parents often had to explain who the judges were. Granted, the show wasn’t necessarily targeted towards ten-year-olds, but still.

Today I couldn’t even name the judges of the final season; Google tells me they were Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick Jr. If I am now the target audience of Idol—a young person with an iPhone who can vote for my favourite contestant without help from my parents—then I can say with certainty that those judges do not reflect the celebrity scene for my age group. This may very well be something addressed in Idol’s revival; a sweeping out of the “old”, so to speak, and a 2017-makeover for the show and its cast. But I am still not convinced.

In its prime, American Idol was the pinnacle of great television (or something like that). It produced huge stars and had a captive hold on viewers which was reflected in its ratings. Like most good things, it hit a peak and then it slid downhill. The show probably went on for too long as it was; it eventually became characterized, at least in my mind, by judge turnover and unmemorable contestants.

American Idol had its time in the spotlight, and it shone brightly. But it ended for a reason. Idol is one good thing that I wish could just exist in the past, without being repackaged for the future. I want to believe that Idol can be successful today; but there are already so many other reality competition shows, particularly singing ones.

American Idol was at its best when it was one of a kind, and it can no longer claim this. If it returns, it will be to a markedly different climate than the one it thrived in. If the show really is revived, it will be setting itself up for failure. And as a previous Idol superfan, I can’t bear to see this happen.

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A Glimpse of Spring

Today was one of those too-beautiful-for-words kind of days. It was warm and sunny during the day, but by early afternoon dark clouds had set in. The clouds gave way to rain and a tiny thunderstorm (I say “tiny” as if I didn’t jump out of my skin when I was walking outside and was surprised by a clap of thunder). After the clouds parted, a double rainbow appeared. Now, as I write this, the sky is pink and yellow and orange; all of the colours, all at once.

It’s been a rainy April where I live, but I’m not complaining about it — the rain has made the grass green, and brought beautiful, blossoming flowers. I decided to photograph the flowers tonight, alongside the sky, and I immediately knew I wanted to include my photos in a blog post. If a picture says a thousand words, then this post is a spring novel.

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Time Flies

As I “move on” in my education, so to speak—graduate from high school, finish my first year of university—I am beginning to realize just how true the saying “It goes by in the blink of an eye” really is. I entered high school almost five years ago. I remember getting off the bus and standing with my friends as we waited for the doors to be opened and for our time in high school to officially begin. I blinked and high school whizzed past. Before I knew it, I was wearing a robe and cap, walking across a stage to receive my high school diploma.

Eight months ago, I gathered my belongings into suitcases and moved into a university dorm. It felt like there was an eternal distance between me and my family and friends. But then I began to make new friends, and I realized that I love my program. I blinked, and my first year of university has flown past. I am shaking my head as I type this—because I can’t believe that I am mere weeks away from being one quarter of my way to my Bachelor of Journalism degree.

It’s a cliché saying, but I’ll say it anyways: It feels like just yesterday I was starting university. I can still feel the butterflies in my stomach that sprouted the morning of my program orientation. And I can still feel the excitement of those butterflies fading as the day went on and I met people who are now among my best friends. Time is funny in that way—how, as to quote C.S. Lewis, nothing changes day by day, but everything is different when you look back.

In my journalism program, we created private blogs to post our work onto. For a recent assignment, we had to edit the blog and ensure it was well organized. As I scrolled through all of my work from this year, I felt so proud of how far I have come. There is an obvious difference between the first article I wrote and my most recent article; not only have I become more confident in multimedia, such as photography and audio recordings, but I have also grown more comfortable with “streeter interviews” and conducting interviews in general.

It’s not just my work in journalism of which I am proud. This year I became a stronger essay writer after a particularly tough politics course first semester. I also learned a lot about subjects that I’ve never taken before. Before this year I had thought, for example, that my grade 10 history course would be the last history course I ever took. But then course selections rolled around, and, when faced with either microeconomics or world history since 1945, I selected the latter. It ended up being super interesting and useful, since Cold War history comes up in most of the politics courses I am taking.

It’s weird to think about my life at this time last year. In April 2016, I had just had my wisdom teeth taken out, and I was preparing for a school model United Nations conference. I think I had accepted my university offer at this time last year, though I didn’t know I’d be living on-campus, nor that I’d receive a scholarship which covered my tuition costs. University felt like it was so far off in the future, even though it was only months away. But then I blinked, and an entire year went by.

A lot of the time, when people talk about life going by in the blink of an eye they mention regrets that they have. The thing is, if I were to go back and talk to my high-school self, I wouldn’t tell myself to change anything. In high school, I was aware that time was flying by, so I made a conscious effort to make the most of my four years. They still went by quickly, but they were full of moments that I still hold close to my heart. I hope, three years from now, I will be able to say the same thing about my experience at university. If this year is any indication, it’s going to go by quickly—but it’s also going to be an amazing journey.

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A City of Stories

Today was a dark, cloudy Tuesday in downtown Toronto. As I was walking along a busy street, trying to make it to my class before rain spilled from the clouds, I noticed that the person walking in front of me was holding a camera, gazing around. He seemed to be looking for a photo to take. Watching him gaze at the blinking billboards, the cars whizzing past, and the dark sky, I thought of the way I view the world.

Just like that person was looking for a photo, I am always looking for a story. Not everything is a story, but I’ve learned that anything can be woven into a story. I am constantly filing away things I see, conversations I have and often these things emerge—months, years later—in some sort of story that I am telling. For example, a few weeks ago I saw this haiku about Donald Trump on a crosswalk button.


On its own, a haiku isn’t necessarily a story. But when that one haiku is woven into a story about the larger movement, like the other haikus the group #HaikuForYouTO has put up, then it becomes a narrative. It becomes a story that a blogger or journalist like me would tell. But I can only tell the story if I am aware of it in the first place.

When I created this blog, all the way back in Sept. 2013, I made my tagline “The world as I see it.” Although I don’t feature this tagline on my blog anymore, I still think it’s an accurate summary of what I do as a blogger. I  don’t write objectively about the world—I write about the way I view the world. What makes the way I view the world special, in my eyes, is that I am constantly looking for stories to tell. I get my inspiration from all over the place.

My recent post “What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with Donald Trump?” was inspired by, well, an elevator. You probably wouldn’t automatically come up with that post idea just from riding in an elevator—but if you had previously had an experience where the elevator alarm went off, as I had, and had considered what you would say to Donald Trump, given the opportunity, as I had, the idea for the post may come more naturally.

I consider myself a curious person, so this is where some of my passion for discovering and telling stories comes from. I think it also comes from my parents. My mom is constantly showing me pictures of architecture she finds interesting, or the pretty flowers in the lobby of a building she was in. I find myself taking pictures of buildings I see downtown because I know that they have a story attached to them—and if I can’t find the story online, I can make it up.

Making up stories is something I get from my dad. He is always making up funny, fictional explanations for situations we are in. Traffic stuck on the highway? There must be an ice-cream truck blocking the way, promising to give everyone free ice cream after the accident is resolved. This penchant for creative thinking has influenced my passion for telling fictional stories—because fictional stories are, in my opinion, equally as important as non-fictional ones.

Through blogging, I have the opportunity to tell my own stories, which I love. But through being a journalist, I have a platform to tell other people’s stories and I love that, too. Being in a busy city like Toronto, there is no shortage of stories to tell—as long as we are looking for them.

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Why I’m Happy My Editorial Calendar Failed

I tried to make an editorial calendar in January; I had it all figured out in my planner. On Martin Luther King Junior day, I would write a post based on one of his quotes. On the day of Donald Trump’s Inauguration, I would write about supporting people in these precarious and uncertain times. The next week, I’d write about education and civics. After that, I’d write about freedom of speech and the importance of conversing with people who share different opinions than you.

If none of these posts sound familiar to you, it’s because I didn’t write them. I wrote other posts in January, about being on the right side of history, people’s reactions to Donald Trump, my thoughts about studying journalism in this political climate, and opportunities that arise in life. I’m really happy with the posts I wrote in January. I think it’s funny, though, that my editorial calendar did not work out.

In all other aspects of my life, I use my planner religiously. Some mornings, I really don’t want to go to the gym, but if my planner says “Gym” with a checkbox beside it, I’ll find myself lacing up my running shoes. I get so much satisfaction from crossing things off my ever-growing to-do lists, and I love making new lists, planning out my life in a series of checklists. And yet, I’ve already made it clear that my editorial calendar for January didn’t work. Why?

I think part of the reason is that blogging isn’t like the other things I put down in my planner. My reminder to write a blog post is often written beside a plethora of other tasks: to work on my politics essay, to finish reading chapter seven of my textbook, to take my weekly news quiz for journalism, to read a book, to read the newspaper. Those tasks aren’t terrible, but in fulfilling them I don’t exactly get to be as creative as I wish I could be. So when it comes to the task of writing a blog post, I don’t really see it as a task, the way I would view something I need to do to pass a course; it’s more like a fun thing that I’m passionate about (of course, this isn’t to say that I am not passionate about my school work, because I am. There is, however, a difference in my mind as my blog is completely separate from any other responsibilities).

To me, this distinction is important — it is, perhaps, the key reason why my editorial calendar failed. I don’t see blogging as a rigid, structured task. Although my blog does directly relate to what I want to do in life (to be a journalist) blogging is not my job. And so, I relish the opportunity to be creative, to stare at a blank document on my computer and try to fill it with words. The way I view blogging isn’t compatible with a strict schedule of what I will post and when I will post it.

That doesn’t mean I don’t plan ahead, though. The “Sherinaspeaks” folder on my computer is filled with documents, some containing half-written posts that I’ll polish up, some containing mere dot jots of inspiration. I have lists — in my planner, on my phone, in my head, on sticky notes littering my desk — of posts that I want to write, topics I want to explore, questions I want to delve into. In other words, I have passion for blogging. Beyond aiming to write one post a week, and interacting on the blogosphere on what I aim to be a daily basis, I don’t want to plan out anything else.

Looking back on the calendar I made for January, and the spreadsheet I created in hopes of reconciling the experience with yet another editorial calendar (spoiler alert: I’m not using that one, either) I am kind of glad my calendar failed. Because, although the calendar failed, I didn’t. I still wrote posts I am proud of, and I still made lots of lists of future blog post ideas. From my failed calendar I simply learned that, for this specific blog, for this passion which is not a job, I enjoy being spontaneous and creative with my posts. And who knows? I’m sure someday in my writing career I will need to make an editorial calendar. But until that day comes, you can find me blogging sans calendar.

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Being a Journalism Student in the Age of Trump

It was the day of my journalism orientation, and I was sitting with new friends in an unfamiliar building. Professors spoke, imparting words of wisdom to their new pupils. One professor said something that I immediately jotted down in a notebook, and have thought of often since that day: “Afflict the comfortable.”

Those three words opened my eyes to a purpose of journalism that I hadn’t previously considered: that journalists are watchdogs, reporting on those in power (those who are “comfortable”) in a truthful and accurate manner. This role of journalists has always been a pillar of democracy; and it has become even more crucial in recent years, months, and even days, as Donald Trump campaigned, won the Electoral College, and was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Here are just two recent events that come to mind when I think of journalists and Trump: his refusal to take a question from CNN at his press conference, referring to the network as “fake news”, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments wherein he told reporters what to write and used journalists as “hate objects.”

Trump said that he has a “running war with the media.” I think he has a running war with the truth, and the fact that some journalists and news organizations are calling him out on his lies makes it easy for him to confuse the media and the truth. This has paved the way for his comments about fake news. If Trump disagrees with a story, then it is fake news (and fake news, according to Trump, is a “TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT” — never mind that many people who create fake news do it for the money, not for the sake of targeting anyone).

Journalism is not perfect; but as a journalism student, I’ve learned that good journalists are committed to learning how to improve and accurately cover what is happening. I am inspired by the journalists who are committed to having honest conversations about the profession, about what is working and what isn’t.

On every level, the discussions I have heard about Buzzfeed’s decision to publish the dossier about Trump — from conversations in my journalism classes to conversations I watched unfold between established journalists on Twitter — are fascinating. These discussions point to the willingness of journalists to learn and improve their abilities, while remaining committed to the principle of accuracy.

Being a journalism student in the age of Trump means a lot of good discussions and valuable learning experiences. But it also means preparing for a profession which the President of the United States of America frequently bashes, and one in which the public does not have a great deal of trust.

And yet I know that for myself, and many of my peers, these things do not discourage us: they motivate us to be more committed than ever to our decision to pursue journalism. We are committed to report accurately, to be watchdogs, and to stand up for the truth. The same can be said of the countless working journalists who refuse to back away from the present-day challenges of journalism.

“Thank you very much. Good luck,” Barack Obama said at his final press conference as President. When I read this in the newspaper, it made me tear up, because it really set the stage for what was coming: a time when luck was needed for journalists (journalism has always been a challenging profession. But when the President refuses to take questions from certain outlets, doesn’t even hold a press conference for months after he is elected… it is a different kind of challenge).

Much ado has been made about Obama telling journalists “Good luck”; I want to focus on the former part of his statement. Obama thanked journalists, and I want to thank journalists, too. Thank you for doing what is right, even though it is not always easy. You have a new generation of journalism students who look up to you, and who are eager to join you in afflicting the comfortable, being watchdogs, and most importantly: being journalists.

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