By Pauly Denetclaw:
I was once chained to the idea that I wasn’t a journalist until the giants in media gave me a byline. Only they could determine if I was “objective” enough or a “strong” enough writer. I believed they gripped the key to my title and my future as a journalist. But after talking with Joseph Torres from Free Press I know that’s not the case.
It was the afternoon of January 22 and seven of us from Generation Justice huddled around different computer screens in the office, eagerly awaiting the video feed from Joseph Torres. He had given us 60 minutes to talk with him about media reform and anything else we wanted.
We began our discussion – like we normally do at Generation Justice – with introductions. Then we got into the meat of our conversation, which was the need for media reform. Joseph talked passionately about the importance of journalists of color and alternative media. During this part of the discussion he said something I will never forget.
He told us that we are journalists no matter where we work, and to not waste our talents at media outlets that won’t appreciate it. Many people have said this to me but I feel like they were not genuine. In contrast, Joseph said it with this rebellious tone that I admired. He pushed against the common misconception that you aren’t a journalist until you “make it big.” In mutual rebellion and in support of his idea I proudly proclaim, with heart and mind agreeing, I am a journalist regardless of where I work.
I’m a journalist because I believe in the truth. I believe in keeping people in power accountable. I believe in the strength of the media and its ability to create change, something I didn’t appreciate about media until I began this fellowship. I’ve had so many questions answered and I’ve been guided in a way I never would have without this opportunity. Now I have a greater appreciation and respect for alternative media outlets, which I didn’t have before I was a fellow.
He helped me to realize that I want to be a journalist working for a news outlet that genuinely appreciates my point of view, and encourages me to report on issues that aren’t being covered by major news outlets.