i’m all ears

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believe it or not she actually listens more than she talks

I promise I had every intention of keeping my blog updated this semester, but I’m afraid I’m about five months behind. Oops! I’m sorry about that.

I’ll try to do my best and write more because I really do enjoy blogging.

I wanted to tell you about this book I’m reading. It’s called “Walking to Listen” by Andrew Forsthoefel. I can’t put it down. I was hooked from the first page. In 2011 Forsthoefel, 23, had just graduated from college and was ready to start his next phase, but he didn’t know how. So, he decided he’d walk and listen. It turned out to be a cross-country quest for guidance, and everyone he met ended up being his guide. Forsthoefel walked from Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, to Half Moon Bay, California, carrying only a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read, “Walking to Listen.”

I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen, And accrue what I hear into myself…and let sounds contribute toward me. — Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)

I think this should be a required reading for every journalism student before graduation. In just under a year Forsthoefel records 85 hours of interviews and life stories while walking 4,000 miles across the United States. He faces fear, loneliness, doubt but also encounters incredible kindness from strangers and thousands share their stories with him. He discovers the answers to some of life’s hardest questions just might be in listening itself.

When your job as a journalist balances on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have conversations. I remember one of the first things I hated about journalism was interviewing people. I dreaded talking with them, especially if it was someone I didn’t like. I’m starting to enjoy it now. By no means do I consider myself a professional interviewer. I still get super nervous, but I don’t dread it anymore. The secret to interviewing is listening. What I’ve learned most from the people I have interviewed is that they just want to be heard. That’s all they want. They want someone to care about them. And nothing says we care like showing up, listening and asking intelligent questions.

We’ve all had really great conversations. We know what it’s like. The kind of conversation you walk away feeling engaged and inspired, or where you feel like you’ve made a real connection or you’ve been perfectly understood. It’s taken me a while to learn how to have these conversations, but I’ve found they have the power to helps us all understand who we are and what we want our lives to mean.

In journalism, I talk to people that I like, and I talk to people that I don’t like. I talk to people that I agree with and people I strongly disagree with, but no matter what, I think it’s important to still have a great conversation with them.

In almost every class I’ve had at the journalism school, there has been at least one day where my professor spends an entire lecture on the importance of listening. Listen to what’s being said and listen to what’s not being said. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my professors say it’s the most important skill for a journalist to develop. I’ll never forget Professor Hudson saying to us, “In order to be a good storyteller you must be a good story listener. The Dobby Ears are so important. Listen. Listen. Listen.”

I ask myself all the time why is it so difficult for me to listen? I think partly because when I talk, I’m in control of the conversation. I don’t have to hear anything I’m not interested in or something I don’t agree with. I’m the center of attention. I also think it’s partly because I get distracted when I listen. Did you know the average person talks about 225 words per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute? So, what our minds are doing is filling in those other 275 words. It takes effort and energy to engage and really pay attention to someone. I think Stephen Covey says it brilliantly, “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply.”

I’m thankful I go to a school that teaches lifelong skills I will carry with me wherever I go. I also couldn’t have stumbled upon this book at a better time. It’s helping me be a better human and therefore a better journalist.

If you’re looking for your next page turner be sure to give “Walking to Listen” by Andrew Forsthoefel a good read. His determination to understand others is infectious. I’m already thinking of ways I can better my conversations and quality time with people. Warning: after reading it, you might just find yourself going for a long walk to listen.

Thank you for reading!

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“What I wish I’d known at the beginning of the semester that I understand now about reporting is that…”

This is the prompt Katherine gave us for our final blog post. There’s a lot I wish I knew before coming in. No matter how man people you talk to who have taken this class before or blogs you’ve read that give advice to future J4450 reporters, nothing will prepare you for it and I don’t mean this in a scary way. I just mean what I say.

I think this semester was a pretty incredible semester to be a reporter at the Missourian. It was in this semester our 45th President of the United States was elected. It was this semester that our 24th UM Systems President was announced and it was this semester I grew in more ways I could imagine. I’m thankful for this experience and I’ll carry what I’ve learned on with me for the rest of my life. Thank you to all the editors and fellow reporters for helping me survive. So much love.

Things I wish I knew at the beginning…

  • Be a human first.
  • Reporting requires so so so so so much grace.
  • What you lack in talent you make up for in perseverance
  • Don’t write a story of their life but bring their story to life. People are the heartbeat of every story.
  • If you can’t answer “How do you know” then don’t put it in.
  • Don’t give into silence. It’s golden. People hate silence
  • “Tell me more” are the three most golden words
  • A little courage goes a long way
  • What we do is serious, but we don’t have to be serious while doing it.
  • Use your 6 senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and emotional intelligence

 

Thank you for reading!

final(s) week

As I go into my final week at the Missourian, and finals week, I can hardly believe it. I’ve had December 16 circled on my calendar ever since the start of this semester, and the thought of it being right around the corner is insane. Thinking about the Missourian orientation day back in August seems like 16 years ago, not 16 weeks.

There are parts of my life I’m definitely looking forward to getting back again. I like routine, structure and consistency so I’m ready to have some control again. I’m also looking forward to not having my phone velcroed to my hand 24/7 waiting for emails calls and texts from people. I won’t have to be checking my social media feeds and I can take off my Facebook mobile app again. Being reachable is not a bad thing, I just don’t like it to steal my time and attention when I’m with other people.

I could give your classic “20 tips to survive the Missourian” or “Here’s what I learned about journalism after 16 weeks with the Missourian” blog (don’t worry, the second one I’ll write for my final blog next week) but for this post I think I’ll do something a little different.

I’ve talked a lot about the people I have met in and out of the newsroom, but I haven’t talked nearly enough about the other people who got me through the newsroom. People (or pets) I owe a huge thank you to. This semester was really difficult, and I struggled a lot. I had some bad, bad days but also had some really great days and if I didn’t have them to complain or celebrate with, the last 16 weeks would have been unbearable. Even though you weren’t in the newsroom you’re on my team and Jesus knows I need you all for every win. Love you guys.

Thank you mom and dad for your constant support. Thank you for reminding me to never give up, work hard, and give everything and everyone my absolute best. Thank you for always being here for me. Being separated is difficult but I’ve felt your love the whole time. Thank you for being some of my biggest readers and fans. Taybor, I guess you’re cool too.

I owe a huge thank you to Gretchen for keeping me sane. Thanks for being constant and consistent through this unpredictable semester.

Thank you Libby (my cat) for being what I look forward to on my way home. I will never tired of hearing your collar jingle as you run to greet me. Thank you for staying up late with me as I’m researching and looking up old articles. We all know being a journalist is not your typical 9-5 job. I’ve appreciated your company more than ever.

And lastly thank you Reader for hanging out with me this semester. Just because the class is over doesn’t mean I will stop blogging. Also, I apologize for my blogs  around the middle of October. Things were picking up around the newsroom and I was running low on fuel. But, if you’re still up for hanging with me through my next semester (and who knows how long I’ll keep this going) feel free to keep hanging with me.

I’m actually looking forward to blogging about things other than news and the Missourian.

 

Thank you, always, for reading!

home stretch

I’m down to my last week of school for the semester. I can hardly believe it. Part of me is excited and ready to be done and have this behind me but the other part of me sad that another semester is over. With this was almost done I only have three more semesters left. I’m one more semester closer to graduating which means I’m one step closer to coming to an end.

I hate beginnings and I hate endings. I like the middle. I like the middle because it’s constant. There’s not a whole lot of change that occurs in the middle. But with the end of the semester approaching and (nearly) the end of my college career, change is going to happen.

I guess it is true what they say the only thing that’s constant is change itself. I’m sad I only have two more classes with Professor Melnyk (my English professor). I’m sad I won’t get to be surrounded by my newsroom friends all the time anymore. I liked how the newsroom became a family. We have each other’s backs. We understand the frustration when sources don’t call you back, or the pressure you feel from your editors. I think what I’ve enjoyed most about the newsroom is the community. Sure, we don’t always see eye to eye but we’re a family. My beat has been amazing and our fearless leader Liz has taught me so much in this short amount of time.

I’m really going to miss the people.

Have a great Sunday!

 

Thanks for reading!

more brain food recommendations

Here’s what’s been on my radar the past couple weeks.

What to read:

What to read if you’re a dog lover: “Dog Medicine” — Julie Barton

I read this book as soon as I saw the author, Julie Barton, was coming to Columbia for the Unbound Book Festival in April. This book is so good. Barton writes about her struggles her first year out of college and how adopting Bunker, a Golden Retriever, saved her life. I think we all can find ourselves relating to her in one way or another. I’m thankful for her bravery in sharing her story.

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” — Garth Stein

The book club at TigerPlace just started reading this book. It’s a great read told with humor and humanity. My favorite part is that it’s narrated by a dog named Enzo. This old soul of a dog has a lot to teach us about what it means to be human.

What to read when you’re in need of an escape: “A Man Called Ove” — Fredrik Backman

I suppose it’s a little unfair to recommend a book I haven’t finished yet, but I really like it so far. It doesn’t require critical thinking and serves as a nice escape for anyone stressing over finals.

What to read when you need to feel good about the world: Crystal Stockwell (article) — The Missourian

Mylynda, a fellow journalists at the Missourian with me, wrote a heart-warming story about Crystal Stockwell moving into a new home that will finally accommodate her needs. It’s definitely a nice break from all politics. Please give it a read.

What to listen to:

What to listen to when you want to get in the Christmas spirit: “A Pentatonix Christmas” — The Pentatonix

The Pentatonix, an acapella group, recently released their new Christmas album. Gretchen gave me this CD to listen to for my drive home and I’m a big fan. It’s fun and different from most Christmas albums. They sing your classic Christmas songs but take a new spin adding their acapella-ness. If you like a good lyrical workout, I suggest listening to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlmen.

What to listen to when you need reminding that we’re all in this together: “Body Parts Wanted” — Charles Anderson

Charles Anderson preached this sermon last Sunday at The Crossing. I think we all this need gentle reminder every now and then that we’re not alone. We need each other and being a part of a community is so, so important.

What to watch:

What to watch when you need inspiration: “Rudy”

I watched this movie the other night and it was amazing. I loved it so much. It’ll leave you with all the feels. I love the take home message of never giving up on your dreams. What you lack in talent you make up for in perseverance.

What to watch if you’re in J4450 (or interested in Snowden): “Citizen Four” — Laura Poitras

This week we started this documentary about Edward Snowden and the exposure of the NSA that happened a few years back. When this first broke out  I was in high school and didn’t pay attention, but now that I’m studying journalism it’s interesting to see how investigative journalism played a huge role in uncovering government information.

What to watch if you’re a musical enthusiast: “Hairspray Live” — NBC

If you’re a musical enthusiast like me then be sure to tune in to NBC on December 7 to watch “Hairspray Live”. I’m a huge fan of musicals, but I’m an even bigger fan of live musicals. I love that they are doing various musicals live on television.

Thanks for reading!

thankful for breaks

Hi again! Sorry for the second post in two days. I sort of dropped the ball this week and forgot to blog, so I’m squeezing my  two blogs at the end of the week. Better late than never, right?

I couldn’t be more excited for Thanksgiving break. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while now. I haven’t been home since August. I think this week will be great for me. I didn’t bring anything school related to work on this week. I’m going to relax and enjoy it as much as possible. I brought a few books home to read and I hope to catch up with some friends. Most of all I’m hoping to take advantage of this.

This also means when I go back we only have two weeks of class and then finals. Those two weeks are going to be fast and furious. I don’t want to think about that right now though. It’s just the start of my break and I don’t want to get bogged down just yet.

Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Thanks for reading!

another life story

Hi there! Long time no blog. Sorry about that. Things have been so hectic lately. Thanks for sticking with me though. Only a few more weeks and I’ll finish my time at the Missourian.

Can you believe that?  I never thought the end would come but what do you know, I’m almost done.

I had my next to last GA shift on Monday and Scott assigned me a life story. It’s kind of become a running joke at the newsroom that I’ve become the life stories reporter.

Even though this would be my third life story I was still nervous to pick up the phone and call the family. His name was Bob Frala and he was a Football coach at the University of Missouri in the 1960s.

I chatted on the phone with his daughter for a bit. I was expecting to ask my questions over the phone like I had the last two life stories but this time the daughter actually invited me over to their house. That way I could talk with the rest of the family. I could talk to his wife of 65 years and their children.

I enjoyed doing the interview in person than over the phone. I got to sit with the family and hear stories and memories of Bob. They showed me old photographs stuffed in albums that were scattered around. I saw their faces light up when they told stories of him or their eyes crinkled as they laughed about his sense of humor.

At the beginning of the semester I hoped I would never do a life story. It sounded like the worst assignment ever. Honestly, I love doing them. I’m completely fascinated by people.

I have one more GA shift left and secretly I hope I get assigned a life story.

Here’s the life story that I wrote: Bob Frala remembered as beloved Missouri coach and family man

Thanks for reading!