Editorial Notebook

Reaffirming my faith in journalism

Oftentimes journalism can make me jaded. With all the work that goes into covering events, writing articles, putting them through our editing process, photographing, and even finding the money to be able to print, I must admit, sometimes I forget the excitement that drew me to The Polytechnic. But last Friday, I had the pleasure of photographing an event at the RPI Chapel and Cultural Center featuring a candlelit vigil for survivors of domestic abuse. 

I have never had a more reaffirming event in my life. 

I was late for the vigil, and it had already ended by the time I got there. I was just about to leave when, determined to get my photo, I found the coordinator of the event and asked if there was anything I could photograph. She immediately jumped into action and told me that she’d take care of it. Within five minutes of me setting up my camera, a group of 30 or so survivors and volunteers were outside—mind you, this was a particularly cold, windy Troy night. 

These survivors then started lighting their candles, singing, laughing, and talking when the coordinator introduced me to the group. I informed the group about my article I had written regarding Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, and then emphatically thanked them for being so accommodating. 

This group of survivors and volunteers—genuinely good people who have experienced hardships I can’t even begin to imagine—started to cheer and thank me for coming and doing something as simple as writing an article and taking a few photos.

After I finished, a few survivors, volunteers, and event organizers came up to me and told me their stories. Everything from a simple thank you, to a full-blown conversation about the significance of this month and our society’s abhorrent apathy towards figures in the highest positions of power having said, and done, such disgusting and degrading acts, leveraging their power over women. The implicit message this sends to women is that the people in positions of power are willing to forgo ethics in some absurd struggle for power. This, in turn, makes it difficult for those suffering from domestic abuse or sexual assault to feel comfortable coming forward when they, themselves, are taken advantage of. 

While I cannot claim to know the solutions to these core societal issues, I can empower those who are genuinely passionate about making a difference. The role of a good journalist is preeminently to illuminate the issues which affect our communities—both large and small—as well as giving good causes a platform they otherwise wouldn’t have. 

With all the scrutiny surrounding news syndicates in recent years, with terms like “fake news” being thrown around, I think it’s increasingly important for journalists to consider these concerns, but also for us as a society to support the great work that our local, and national organizations do. The fact that the highest elected official of our nation diminishes the importance of the work of news organizations which report facts—as inconvenient as they may be to his agenda—should be a cause for worry. Without these institutions, we are left blind.

Photographing the survivors and writing about Domestic Abuse Awareness Month illustrated to me the importance of what we journalists do. If even one person comes away from reading that article equipped with the knowledge or drive to change their life, or the lives of others, then my work will have been justified.