My brother, also known as he who could not be returned and/or my little miracle depending on how I feel about him on a given day, didn’t speak until he was five and so I communicated with the world for him. At five years old, I was telling someone else’s story and it was a powerful feeling.
Telling stories comes with responsibility, you have to always try to tell the story in a way that is accurate and fair. My friend JR insists I’m a dying breed; a breed of journalist that died out with Murrow, but I insist there are more of us out there.
As I went through my clips to create my Clips page on this site, I realized just how much each story had changed me. Each story taught me something different about myself; it taught me when I cave, when I fight and why I do both.
Recently MediaBistro published a story about Jill Abramson and her commentary on whether or not women report stories differently. According to the post on Facebook, Abramson believes men and women report articles in the same way (here’s a NYTimes opinion piece on it). She said “The idea that women journalists bring a different taste in stories or sensibility isn’t true. I think everybody here recognizes and loves a good story, and the occasions are rare when there is disagreement about that.”
I, most respectfully, disagree.
While the mechanics of our methods are similar, I think we feel differently about certain things and can bring that to the table. I see it as an advantage.
Maybe I’m young, maybe I’m naive, but I feel that my ability to “feel” is what makes me a better reporter. There may not be crying in baseball, but there’s crying in my journalism. The sadness that I feel every time I report 9/11 stories (or read them) makes me realize that sharing that with people (where were you, I was here type of reporting) helps people cope. It helps people realize that you’re not a ruthless reporter, merely trying to profit from their pain. You’re a concerned citizen who believes the public needs to know the story of the one you lost.
I remember reading somewhere that if you speak the names of those lost, they are never truly lost. And, if anything can be learned from the 9/11 coverage last weekend, it is that by sharing stories heals, helps us remember and joins a people together.
So use your gift, journalists, or hang-up the phone; stories need to be told by everyone, using all skills you have on hand. And if that includes “feminine” emotions, then so be it.