By Jason Fuller:
My time here at Generation Justice has been remarkable, but I have always carried around a bag full of journalistic insecurities. Over the past months of the fellowship this bag has almost vanished because of my experience conducting interviews, editing audio, writing blogs, and speaking with our national trainers. Our meeting with Jeff Cohen, formerly of CNN, FOX and MSNBC, would serve as another opportunity to leave my insecurities at the door. Meeting Jeff Cohen gave me the strength to feel as if I belonged in the journalism profession.
As our conversation began, Jeff Cohen told us that he is an independent, self-taught journalist. When Jeff said this I wanted to jump for joy—I had met yet another accomplished journalist whose path to success in journalism was from a non-journalism background, like our previous trainer John Garcia (Director of Communications for Latino Justice). For quite some time I felt unqualified to even say that I was a journalist; I instead would tell everyone that I wanted to be a journalist. Thanks to Jeff’s words, I feel like I can carve out my place on this canvas we call journalism.
While speaking with Jeff, I expressed my fire and yearning to bridge journalism and the voices of people of color. He was adamant saying that this area of journalism has a great deal of potential since people of color rarely tell their own stories. I began telling myself more and more “why not me?” It was soothing to hear that my specific passion is needed in the world of journalism. I felt high on life, but then I remembered that major networks view this sort of journalism as too critical. Just as this entered my mind, Jeff Cohen defused my negativity.
Cohen said that, “this generation of journalists has the chance to change the very core of journalism.” From this statement I felt empowered, because journalists of my generationcanknow right from wrong, and see injustice beneath its disguises. Maybe, just maybe we will restructure the foundation of media to the point where we invest in integrity-based journalism. But just in case the powers that be keep media strongly in their grasp, Jeff opened my eyes to growing alternative media organizations. He said, “look at Mother Jones, Color Lines, First Look Media, and others,” they engage in the same journalism practices as Generation Justice.
The process of unloading my bag full of journalistic insecurities hasn’t been easy, but this fellowship has eased my burden. My conversation with Jeff Cohen gave me hope that I don’t have to conform to commercial media’s paradigm. I can establish myself in alternative media organizations that stimulate minds and represent the voiceless. Thanks again to Jeff Cohen for his inspiring work.