Step­ping stones for a new jour­nal­ist

The Compass - - OPINION - Melissa Jenk­ins Melissa Jenk­ins is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass

If you had asked me six months ago where I thought I’d be to­day, I never would have guessed at­tend­ing lo­cal events, in­ter­view­ing in­ter­est­ing peo­ple and writ­ing about the ad­ven­tures I ex­pe­ri­ence ev­ery week.

Since mid-March, I have con­sid­ered my­self a re­porter and a jour­nal­ist. It is not be­cause of my ex­per­tise or ed­u­ca­tion, but be­cause I have found an en­vi­ron­ment I think I can thrive in. Hope­fully, it can de­velop into a ca­reer. My first month writ­ing for The Com­pass was dif­fi­cult, but not be­cause I didn’t en­joy what I was do­ing. It was tough be­cause there are so many com­plex rules and styles of writ­ing that were com­pletely un­known to me be­fore I be­gan my new po­si­tion.

My mom al­ways told me she writes some­thing out 10 times be­fore she knows it’s good enough for peo­ple to see. I don’t have that lux­ury. I am pressed with tight dead­lines, dif­fi­cult sto­ries and writ­ing for an au­di­ence who did not just ex­pe­ri­ence what I did, yet I have to make them feel like they were there.

My writ­ing has been torn apart, flipped up­side­down, re­ar­ranged and glued back to­gether, but it was all for the bet­ter.

I fi­nally re­al­ized that’s what needed to hap­pen, and that my words are not al­ways glit­ter and rain­bows on pa­per. I had to check my ego at the door. As hard as learn­ing to prop­erly struc­ture my lan­guage was, my big­gest strug­gle has been with the art of pho­tog­ra­phy.

My sis­ter and brother have used pro­fes­sional cam­eras for sev­eral years now, and never once has it dawned on me to pick one up and try it out.

I just as­sumed if the time came and I had to use it, I would be great at it.

Sure, that seems a lit­tle nar­cis­sis­tic, but I have al­ways been good at just about ev­ery­thing I have done pro­fes­sion­ally, un­til now.

The cam­era is your friend. The cam­era is your friend.

I keep telling my­self that, but hon­estly the cam­era has been a very hard tran­si­tion for me, even with the con­sis­tent help and mo­ti­va­tion from my fel­low edi­to­rial team mem­bers.

In fact, I fear it will be my down­fall when judg­ment day comes.

Some days, I sit at my desk won­der­ing how I got here, and why is it I am able to pass on th­ese in­for­ma­tive, in­ter­est­ing and usu­ally won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ences to lo­cal res­i­dents.

I feel like I have the tools at my dis­posal to grow and suc­ceed in this busi­ness, if my pho­tog­ra­phy doesn’t chew me up and spit me out first.

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