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Columbia Missourian

Why we notice what we notice

There has been wave after wave of big news stories since I’ve joined the Missourian team. In just the past 48 hours, Mizzou athletics scored another hefty donation and a high profile homicide was finally solved, eight years later. Those are huge, news-worthy stories. But they’re not necessarily ones we bump into on the street or dream up in our spare time. They’re stories that are, more or less, handed to us. That’s not to say there is not a great deal of art and persistence behind those articles. As journalists, breaking news is incredibly difficult and rewarding to report.

Yet, what news is swept in between those waves? Arguably, the best news. Because between the tides of “hard-hitting” news are the stories journalists have found for themselves. They are the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and overcoming hardships. They are the stories journalists put passion and vision behind, because they want to. In a great piece in the American Journal Review entitled, “Notice What You Notice,” Beth Macy challenges us to, “Stop obsessing about the depressing industry news on Romenesko and open your eyes to all of the amazing stories out there.” How true is that?

Macy lists several great examples of journalists acting upon what they notice, and one of the most powerful stories is her own. Macy grew up poor and was the first person to go to college in her family. Later on in her life, she embarked on an independent project to document the decline in need-based financial aid. Her background and her choice brought her to the story of Theresa Robertson, the first person in her family and her entire neighborhood to attend college. What to know where she went? Oh, just Harvard.

“It’s our job to nurture our inner tugs and goose bumps, and to know without a doubt: These are my stories, the stories that I was born to tell.” — Beth Macy

I had the chance this week to publish a story I had noticed for myself. Coming from Arkansas, I understand fully the importance of farming and agriculture (though I did not wear overalls or trapse around barefoot, thank you very much). I’ve seen for myself how the industry has changed over my life time – how less and less young people are rejuvenating the business, how the family farm is starting to disappear. I care about this, and that is why I started looking into the state of agriculture in Missouri. What I found was inspiring. The university is taking huge strides to herd its bright, young students to return to their family farms after graduation, or even to start their own. I got to speak with a few of these bright spots in farming’s future, and boy, did their passions outweigh any of their fears. One student, Aubrey Ellison, hopes and dreams to return to her family’s dairy farm after she graduates. I could feel her excitement radiating through the telephone line as I spoke with her about the big plans she has to make her farm more efficient. She told me something that has really stuck with me. “This is just my calling,” she said without a glimmer of doubt. “This is what I was made to do.”

Macy challenges us as journalists to notice what we notice, to observe and to act on whatever stirs our hearts. She challenges us to find the stories that only we can write, the stories that are our own calling.  That may sound like a daunting task, and believe me, I find it intimidating. But we notice what we notice for a reason. We were given passions for a reason. I can’t wait to get out there and find stories that I can say with confidence, “This is just my calling. These are my stories, the stories I was born to tell.”


About carolinebmn

Caroline Bauman is proud to be a University of Missouri student and an aspiring journalist. She is not quite as proud of her coffee addiction, however.


One thought on “Why we notice what we notice

  1. Many thanks for taking free time to publish “Why we notice what we notice Caroline Bauman”.
    Thank you yet again ,Ellis

    Posted by http://yahoo.com | February 11, 2013, 9:14 am

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