I didn’t start paying attention to the names of people on the cover until I was in my early 20s. But I knew their faces and voices.
People like Anna Marie Tremonti, Adrienne Arsenault, and of course, Peter Mansbridge.
The stories in the essay collection, That’s Why I’m a Journalist, is the people I always wanted to be, although I didn’t know it at the time of the question, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’.
They speak in the book about stories that highlight their careers. Stories that have affected them in some way. Stories that meant something to them.
Although a lot of them are the huge breaking stories that started them off on mind-blowing career, that is not the reason that those stories has had such an impact on their lives.
It is the difference they made telling the story that has impacted them. The stories of spending month trying to get Scout Canada to admit of scouts being sexually abused (Diana Swain), and walking through a city full of dead bodies and seeing children left orphaned by the earthquake in Haiti (David Common).
That is what journalism is to these amazing journalists.
That is the reason I wanted to become a journalist.
Anna Marie Termonti told her story about the fighting in Sarajevo and going into town after town talking with people who were hiding in basements afraid of the shelling and a makeshift hospital with wounded men, women, and children.
“These were victims of war,” she writes, “But they weren’t one-dimensional victims.”
“They had nothing, but they offered us everything. It was impossible not to marvel at the kindness and generosity of those people.”
These stories are the ones I feel I won’t have the guts to get but the ones I want to report on.
Going to school in King’s College in Halifax, the first thing Stephen Puddicombe said to us before he even started his first research class is why the f*** we were there? Wasn’t there something better we could have done with our lives than be journalists? We should all just pack up our bags and leave.
To some, this was a shocking question and an unwanted one. This was a question that harden that little seed of doubt the ones that didn’t know if they wanted to be journalists already had. These were the ones that complained that that wasn’t the right atmosphere a teacher should put us in before our first class even started.
For others, it strengthened their resolve.
If you could listen to Puddicombe rant about why you shouldn’t become a journalist in those first ten minutes of his class and not want to run from the room, that was your first step in becoming a journalist.
For me, I crossed my arms and sat there, taking whatever Puddicombe could throw our way. I knew I wanted to be there and nothing he could have said at that time could have made me think otherwise.