Look what j-school did to me: journo training changed my brain forever

I just wrote a Facebook post sharing the video above. So did a colleague. Here’s how two people, one with journalism training and one without, see the exact same video with local news value:

  • TEDxAsheville Video time: ANOTHER outstanding youth presentation from TEDxNextGenerationAsheville. Ever heard about the alleged toxic spill IN ASHEVILLE? Studies are inconclusive, but there’s widespread sickness in a South Asheville neighborhood, and residents blame toxic groundwater. One young cancer survivor, Gabe Dunsmith, speaks out about alleged contamination at CTS Corp. Six-minute video.

  • TEDxNextGenerationAsheville Asheville LOOK at the spill that is happening in our own backyards. A courageous young leader, Gabe Black Walnut Dunsmith, is not willing to stand for innocent people suffering and dyeing. He’s taking a stand. Will you join him?

Can you spot the  writer who sold her soul to Edward R. Murrow in 2009?

Eh, I’m not sorry. A friend one told me that the way a scientist sees the world is the only way to see the world, and that stuck with me. I tried to learn to see the world as a scientist does, but I didn’t have the right mind. But when it comes to words and information, I’m your woman. Journalism is a magical combination of words and truth, and is its own royal road to discovery. A scientist, I suppose, finds new things, and a journalist interprets things to find a new truth, however humble. Both, when they do it right, chase something elusive and magical.

The mental paces a learning journalist goes through are the best exercises in fairness I have encountered, and freshman newswriting rewrote my writing mind in the best possible way (of all the classes I took in college, its the one that I think should be required for any writer). It taught me how to write with the truth in mind first, and the needs of the reader second, and gave me a formula to do that. Before, I was just regurgitating information onto a page.

I’m not saying my colleague was wrong and I was right in what she and I posted. Hardly. I’m saying there’s a place for both ways of presenting information. Passion and reason are excellent bedfellows.

Anyway. If you live in Asheville, watch this 6-minute video on what seems to me to be one of the most disturbing and under-reported stories I’ve heard in the 30 years I’ve lived here.

One response to “Look what j-school did to me: journo training changed my brain forever

  1. Hi, Jennifer. Mark West here. There’s actually been quite a bit of movement on the CTS superfund site; if you want your water sampled and monitored, and you live anywhere near there, they’ll do it; see http://www.epa.gov/region4/superfund/sites/npl/northcarolina/millsgapnc.html. The CTS site is a big mess, and the EPA knows it. I was under the impression that everybody who lived around here knew about the Big Three — Barbour Orchard, in Waynesville, Chemtronics in Swannanoa, and CTS. The one in WNC that _isn’t_ well known, or under Superfund consideration, is Apple Valley in Henderson County, where Alar and Temik are in the water table from years of use in orchards. Lots of soft-tissue cancer out there.

    I hope things are going well for you. I enjoyed your example of the two styles of writing. — Mark

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