J-School Centennial Experience

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The Opening to my Centennial Experience

Posted by Grace Lillard on September 10, 2008

I have been told that the purpose of this blog is to tell the story of the Missouri J-School Centennial through the words of the next generation of aspiring young journalists.  This experience is giving us a chance to see what we can do.  It is also giving the rest of the world a glimpse at what is rising up to meet it.

I wasn’t assigned to cover the BBQ Bash or the Opening Ceremonies, but something happened to me there that rocked my freshman world, and I want to share it with everyone else who is in my position.

Being surrounded by so many talented people tonight was enough to make me more than a little shy.  But somehow I found myself at the front of a group of students clustered around Ken Paulson, the editor of USA Today.  He shook my hand and introducing himself, said, “I’m Ken Paulson, with USA Today.”  I was struck with the thought, “Wow. This is what a real journalist sounds like.”  Being freshmen with relatively no experience in the actual field of journalism, presented with an incredible resource for information, we of course asked him about the most important thing on our minds.  “Do you have any advice for students deciding between a career in newspaper or magazines?”  Very life or death topic.

His answer, however, was one that may have a very real effect on my life.  He explained, in a very passionate voice to his audience of students, that our focus in school should not be on choosing between the newspaper and magazine industries.  The most valuable thing we can do, he said, is to learn how to write, and learn how to write well.  Across all media today, there is a desperate need for people who can convey messages to the public accurately and fluently.  Those that succeed are the ones with talent, but most importantly those with heart.

My greatest desire is to write.  Hearing from an esteemed journalist that that desire is what really matters reminds me of why I am here.  I am here to learn from the best and hope to join them in this profession.  So everyone who is doubting whether they have what it takes, know that in the end, all it takes is the nerve to introduce yourself and the heart to follow through.


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