Once upon a time I had aspirations to become a photo journalist. I began taking journalism classes and found my instructor to be one of the most non-filtered, open minded and courageous people I’ve ever met. My love of photography was shortly thereafter born through the art of sharing facts and telling a story through the lens. The ability to capture emotion and tell a story through a single image was incredibly impressive to me. Writing and photography I thought then and still think now, can be such a powerhouse to bring the truth with no filter, no judgement, no opinion, just hard straight in your face facts.
I started then from scratch. The basics. With a notebook and pencil I took to being a sleuth Nancy Drew writing for my school newspaper. I took a class in shorthand so I could make notes quicker. No computer. No smart phone. I took photography classes and fell in love with clicking away and then mixing chemicals and preparing the lab to develop what became the rawest of images free of any possible digital technology to alter or manipulate them to what I wanted. They were what they were.
My first real “adulting” job was for the government, filming, developing and preparing 16mm and 35mm microfilm reels full of legal documents for the public. I often think back about that job now and giggle thinking how tedious it was, most days my eyes crossing from filming document after document and the daily smell of filming chemicals on my hands that I could never get rid of. But, I had my own dark room and it was cool.
The coolness of my microfilming tech job is not the purpose of this write however but instead the reminder of the times, the hard copy of documents in my hands and the simplicity of the time of investigative journalism back then in comparison to what it is today.
I have been on a investigative journalism film kick recently in attempts to escape the chaos of today’s world maybe only to trade it for yesterday’s chaos some may say but truly to regain faith that not everything, not everyone is corrupt and has the ability to think for themselves and not follow the herd. That writers and journalists still exist that refuse to accept what everyone else is reporting and writing simply because someone of authority told them so.
Journalism used to be raw. It was facts. It was countless hours of research and interviewing to gain the guts of a story, not the opinion of one, followed by the courage to share it with what sometimes could be an opposite collective belief.
I just recently watched a few films, all based on true stories, that I found insightful and took me back to that twenty year old with a camera and steno notebook hungry for the truth. I’m including them below if you’d like to watch. While I’ve never desired to be a movie critic, I will say that these films were particularly profound in that they brought the reminder of the courage to think and live outside the box. The journalists featured in these films paved themselves a hard road simply for seeking and writing the truth.
There are countless more films if you simply do a Google search and undoubtedly journalists still paving that difficult road for themselves today for even more journalists to walk tomorrow.
When it comes to my own writing today I fill my steno notebook and busy my pen by writing fiction and poetry. I write with no outline and no regard of any particular style unless I feel like the words I’m writing require it. I write what I see, what I feel, what comes to me with the freedom of an imagination. It is here where such a thing should and can thrive. Unlike in journalism where channeling bits and pieces of opinions and perspectives does not belong.