Back when I was an editor of my high school newspaper, I fell asleep every night with words and sentences running in my head. Sometimes I would suddenly sit up in the middle of the night and dash to my desk to scribble down what I thought was an awesome sentence or two, afraid I’d forget it if I waited until morning. My mother always shook her head in disbelief and friends used to say, “If you cut Hanna open, she’ll bleed AP Style.”
I was exposed to journalism at an early age, but never fully immersed myself until my sophomore year of high school. Sure, I was involved in my elementary school’s news broadcast team as a scriptwriter back in the sixth grade, but that was just a whole bunch of fooling around with really shabby equipment. It was fun, but not so rewarding. So just like that, little Hanna forgot about journalism and breezed through life until a stop sign that read “High School,” well, stopped her.
When I found out my high school offered journalism classes, I beat my brains and searched inside my heart to figure out whether I would be happy writing for the rest of my life. It seems dumb, I know, but for some reason or another, this wide-eyed, fresh-faced frosh held her freshman year classes to be a vital element in shaping her career after college. Like really Hanna, I’m cringing as I type this very sentence.
Regardless, I finally signed myself up for the introductory class. Determined to advance to the next and last stage of my school’s journalism program, the school paper, I worked my tail off and made staff by the skin of my teeth.
The three years I spent on staff were simply magical. I found out exactly who Hanna Kang, a fun-sized Asian girl who always wears a ponytail, was. The countless hours I spent in the newsroom, which I had once thought to be a complete waste of my time, revealed to me surprising little things about myself that I would never have known otherwise. The countless hours I spent on research to write my opinion pieces taught me to put aside any biases and look at the world though clear lenses. The countless hours I spent perfecting my pages as the editor earned me the respect of the staff and a sense of accomplishment. Most importantly, the countless acts of criticism I had to endure from teachers and students alike toughened my paper heart. I wrote and published the most controversial articles without a moment of hesitation and when people, even strangers took a swipe at them, I was happy.
Of course, I learned all the technicalities of journalism too. AP Style, proper use of the em dash, the Oxford comma…in fact, one of the most vivid memories I have of journalism are the huge, door-slamming fights we had over grammar, which ended in fits of laughter.
All of those experiences combined led me to major in journalism. A lot of people told me I was stupid for majoring in something that was dying, and I heard that so many times, but clearly, they don’t know what they’re talking about. Journalism will never die. People have been sharing and obtaining information since the first humans walked this earth. That will never, ever change and anyone who states otherwise is obviously oblivious to what is going on in the world.
I’m happy with where I am right now. Journalism makes me happy. I’m not in it for the money (if you are, that’s dumb), and I certainly don’t mind if I never become a journo royal. I just want to put my small voice out there, hoping it reaches a pair of attentive ears.