Throughout my elementary and middle school years, I constantly battled with essay writing. A perfectionist, I never liked anything I wrote as I struggled to transfer my thoughts onto paper.
But during my sophomore year of high school, I finally discovered a love for writing, thanks to a challenging yet caring English teacher who helped me craft my voice. I became confident in my writing, often relying on this skill when my knowledge of another subject fell short. I knew this was something that wouldn’t soon bore me.
Since then, I set out to become a journalist. Writing was my biggest academic passion, so I decided to go with it.
My choice to study journalism was originally based on my fondness for writing, but spending the past four years reporting for The Brown and White has led me to the reason that now drives me to pursue a career in this field: I want to tell others’ stories.
Until my sophomore year at Lehigh, I never really gave much thought to how a story I write could impact someone else. Then, that spring, I profiled a member of the women’s basketball team, a seemingly routine article I would complete to fulfill a requirement for the semester. After the story was published, this student reached out to me to tell me the story was a way for her to always remember her Lehigh career.
Something clicked as I read her email. Even as a student journalist, I could be the reason someone else’s story is told, and I could tell stories that matter.
One tenet of the Society of Professional Journalism’s Code of Ethics states that journalists should “Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.”
No one is truly voiceless — it’s just that the voices of smaller, marginalized groups are often drowned out by the voices of the more powerful.
Generally shy, I am not usually the most vocal person in a room, so writing has given me a voice I am comfortable using. Now, as an aspiring journalist, I hope to lend my voice to tell the stories of others.
Journalists, both students and professionals alike, have a powerful platform that should not be taken for granted.
Today’s political climate often calls into question the legitimacy of journalists, but without their work, our society cannot progress.
Before we discount the field as a whole, we must remember journalists like those at the Boston Globe who uncovered a widespread sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, or the New York Times reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story.
These stories opened up discourse about tough issues that often go unaddressed. They strengthened the voice of these victims and so many others.
As journalists, it’s imperative to seek these stories out, not just to share with others but to learn more ourselves. And while it’s the role of journalists to voice these issues, anyone has the power to use online platforms to play the role of citizen journalist and bring attention to issues that matter to them.
Over the past year, I’ve reported on a student survivor of intimate partner violence and how this issue affects college-aged adults nationwide.
I wrote about a Puerto Rican woman facing unemployment post-Hurricane Maria, even though she was a registered nurse in her home country.
I featured a local shelter that helps homeless veterans build new lives for themselves.
These stories weren’t easy to tell, but the important ones never are.
As I look to begin a career in journalism after graduation, I hope my storytelling doesn’t end with those that I’ve told here at The Brown and White.
I want to be vigilant and courageous, as SPJ suggests.
I want to find those who feel voiceless, hear their voices and amplify them.
Casey Farmer, ’18, is a managing editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]