Allyson Morin, Class of 2018
Opening myself to a mentoring role in community journalism demanded that I open my heart and mind to the reality that my truths are the product of my own limited experience as an individual.
All of us are unfinished. We are unfinished in the truths yet to learn, the perspectives left to consider, the people left to meet and the world unexplored. We grow, change, age, and experience every moment of the day. Some moments are bigger than other moments. Many of my big moments happened in community journalism. UMass students who choose community journalism operate in the role of teacher and mentor, but honestly, these strong, smart, resilient kids at the High School of Commerce taught me more than I could ever offer them. I left this class--after three consecutive semesters--fundamentally different than I entered.
Journalism is vital to a free society. It keeps systems of power in check, gives a voice to the voiceless, and informs us of the world inside and outside of our bubbles. However, so many stories are left untold by our media. Voices are underrepresented and misrepresented. News reports of Springfield paint the city as a single-note place of violence and fail to articulate the complex beauty of its resilience.
Community journalism and its partner, NEPR Media Lab, tell the stories of young people operating within broken systems with unapologetic rawness and honesty. If it were up to me, this course would be a graduation requirement to any student in the UMass Journalism program. Without this course I think you are missing the point. You are depriving your personal education of the ways real journalistic work within real communities can impact and shape real lives. The lessons learned here cannot be learned out of a textbook within the privileged bubble of Amherst, Massachusetts. It simply cannot.
Once upon a time when I was a different Allyson, I hesitated whether I should continue this
class when I realized it was “only” an elective. A friend told me it had the potential to be the
single most important thing I did in my college career. Guess what? It was.