NECIR Summer Journalism Intensive

Photos courtesy of Sophie Friedberg

By SOPHIE FRIEDBERG | Junior Reporter

This summer, I spent two weeks at an intensive journalism program with the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. We were housed at Boston University, where we slept, ate meals, listened to guest speakers and took classes.

Until I attended this program, I assumed my skills and knowledge of journalism were on the right track to making journalism my career. In my mind, I presumed in order to be a good journalist, you simply had to be a good writer.

Little did I know how far off this conclusion was.

Throughout my time with NECIR, I learned that there are countless qualities that a good journalist must have. You must have the ability to ask questions and to think on your feet.

One of our guest speakers told me and the rest of my peers to even take improv classes, because for journalists, being able to stay sharp and ask the right questions is vital to impactful storytelling.

I learned you must be unbiased and open-minded. I am aware this one sounds self-explanatory, however, it is far from that.

Everyone has unconscious bias, and no matter how “unbiased” one’s writing can be, everyone is shaped by their own experiences and environments.

In news reporting (the type of reporting we did at this program), our pieces had to undergo lengthy edits in order to ensure that they were fair and unbiased.

This was one of the biggest challenges I faced throughout the program. As much as journalists try to write as unbiasedly as we can, it ultimately takes a new set of eyes (or a few sets of eyes, in my case) to read through and edit your work to ensure true unbiasedness.

This is a skill I applied not only to my writing, but to my life in general.

In the program, I met a variety of different people, all from different backgrounds, environments and experiences. Having been born and raised in Los Angeles, I sometimes feel like I’ve been closed off to those with different experiences and views than my own.

Especially now, with the country so divided, it is so, so important to be open-minded when meeting people who may not have had a similar upbringing as you. Every individual has something new to teach you. I believe wholeheartedly in this statement.

No matter their political party, their gender, their religion, their sexual orientation or their upbringing: This statement is proven time and time again.

And it was particularly true in my program. I was able to meet people from all over the world, who each carried their own unconscious bias, created by their tailored experiences. This ultimately made me look at my own experiences and writing through different lenses.

Through collaborating on stories, helping each other conduct interviews and simply spending time together, I was able to meet some of the most intelligent, kind and determined people I’ve ever known.

These people have become some of my best friends, and I thank NECIR for bringing us together and further proving that the younger generation is in fact going to change the world.