Journalism is important, even at a young age

Guest columnistAugust 7, 2014 

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting 10-year-old Bronwyn Quinlan, a Presentation student who entered Time for Kids’ Kid Reporter Contest. I wrote a story about her and the article she wrote for the contest, and I was pleased to find that she was not only bright, but also curious about journalism.

When I interviewed her and her mother, she, too, recorded the interview. Afterwards, she asked me several questions about my work at The Journal. I probably didn’t give the best answers, the fact being that I’m just a 20-year-old intern still in journalism school, but it was nice to be asked. I felt quite flattered.

I think one of the reasons I was impressed was that it’s so rare nowadays to find kids that young interested in something as academic as writing and reporting. When I was 10, I enjoyed sports, television and computer games. Writing wasn’t even on my radar. Meanwhile, Bronwyn is busy writing a book in her free time away from horse riding, volleyball and track and field.

It was fascinating to me that I could relate to Bronwyn’s writing process — the painstakingly slow experience of transcribing an interview, staying up late at night to finish an article or getting lost on the way to a location, just to name a few.

In a time where newspapers are supposedly dying and a Buzzfeed list entitled “17 Glorious Photos of Men Walking Around London in Tiny Suit Shorts” is considered journalism, I’m extremely glad there are competitions like TFK’s Kid Reporter Contest to encourage journalism for the new generation.

Not participating in journalism camps, contests or even my high school newspaper still remains as one of my biggest regrets. I didn’t even dip my toes into the journalism pool until my freshman year of college. I would’ve been much more informed and probably a little more intelligent.

If anything, journalism can bring you closer to a topic or activity you enjoy. For Bronwyn, her reporting exposed her to the behind-the-scenes life of the Abby Road horse farm. I’ve used journalism as an excuse, almost. I love sports and as sports editor of my college paper, I was paid to watch and write about them. It doesn’t get much better, to me at least.

If anything, journalists learn new things while reporting. Just in my two months at The Journal, I’ve uttered the phrase “Oh, I didn’t know that” during countless interviews. It gives journalists and their audience insight into people and places alike. It’s educational, and that’s why it is forever necessary and important.


Austin Cannon is a journalism student at Drake University and summer intern for the Lee’s Summit Journal.

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