To Those Who Remain Silent

Remember sitting in history class thinking to yourself, “how did they let that happen?” Remember reading the Diary of Anne Frank and telling yourself, “I would have resisted”? Remember every year since the Holocaust, when around the world people express their sadness for the event and their solidarity with the Jewish community?

Remember sitting in history class thinking to yourself, “I would have marched”? Remember looking at pictures of Colored signs and White Only signs and telling yourself, “I wouldn’t have stood for this”? Remember reading, seeing, and listening to the words of MLK and Rosie Parks and Ruby Bridges and agreeing with them? Remember all the Facebook posts and Tweets you sent to commemorate Black History Month?

Now that you have all those memories swirling in your head, try to remember something else: did you ever think of Rosa and Ruby in the same way you thought of Hitler and Himmler? No, probably not. You thought about Ruby and Rosa in the same way you thought about Anne: inspiring, and someone you definitely would’ve stood up for if you were alive then. Would you have compared the speeches of Herr Hitler to those of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Most likely not. You caption your Black History Month posts with the words of MLK; you don’t caption your Holocaust remembrance posts with the words of the Fuhrer.

So why, exactly, are we here now? Why are you not outraged by the President? Do you believe him when he says the “alt-left” is as dangerous as neo-nazis? If I asked you that, you would probably say no. You would deny any racism or anti-Semitism. You would point to your lovely posts promising you would’ve done so much if you were alive then. Yet, you stay silent now. You don’t want to be judged by family or friends who have different opinions than yours. You don’t want to share your political views at all. You don’t want to speak up for fear of being spoken back to.

Remember all those times I had you remember in the beginning of this post? None of those thoughts were political then. You didn’t think denouncing Nazism was a political issue; you thought it was the only possible thing to do. And you didn’t think of the words and actions of civil rights icons was wrong or too violent or not necessary or in any way similar to the actions of Nazis; you sat and praised Martin, and Rosa, and Ruby. And, as always, you told yourself you would’ve marched, and resisted, if only you had been alive then. 

To all those whom this describes:

You weren’t alive then. You are alive now. Remember that the next time you post in remembrance of anything else.

On Living Life in the Current Climate

Every time I open Twitter or switch the TV channel to one of many news outlets I am met with one thing: impending doom. It’s North Korea this and fire and fury that and a little bit of the classic Trump tweetstorm thrown in as a reminder of the good ole days. Yes, the days when Trump outlined policy and attacked fellow republicans on a social media outlet are now basically the time we look back on longingly. It seems as though we have plunged into a space where the threat of nuclear war is once again ever present and the world will probably end by the time Friday rolls around. With all that swirling around how is my mundane life still chugging along like a Polar Express with a conductor other than Tom Hanks? (Don’t judge my Christmas reference. Heck, the world might end by Thanksgiving I might as well throw it in some time).

If there is one thing I have come to realize, it is that the world will keep spinning. Always. Daily life, whatever that may be for an individual, will continue regardless of a new tweet or presidential threat. Until nuclear warheads are actually deployed, life will go on. And we don’t even know yet if warheads will be deployed. We don’t really know much of anything other than the words of two world leaders. Everything else is speculation and analysis.

So, we keep living. I still wake up every morning in my bed. I still have to do summer work before senior starts. I still go out with family and listen to live music and sway along with the beat and the breeze as if nothing is happening. I know that that is not everyone’s daily life. People all around the world continue to live in war torn cities and poverty-stricken neighborhoods. But even their daily life is not drastically different because of the new war of words between the President of the US and the Dear Leader of North Korea. Because, at the end of the day, the world still keeps on spinning. I’m not going to let Twitter or TV or any other media somehow convince me otherwise.

WJMC, in Summary

After two full days of recovery (recovery meaning sleep, tea, chocolate, and long showers on repeat), I’m finally getting around to posting some thoughts about my WJMC experience. Finally.

I say finally because my initial plan was to blog my experiences nightly while at the conference. I kept this pace for about three days before deciding the time I had to blog (the period of time after 11 pm security check and before the 7 am breakfast began) would be better spent on sleep, and that my blogging skills would be better shown by writing I completed after my time at the conference was over.

And so, here I am. Sitting in bed remembering all that WJMC gave me and missing all the people it allowed me to meet. Every speaker we heard from (12 in all) came from a different background. We heard from photojournalists to managing editors to White House Correspondents to foreign correspondents to everything in between. I can honestly say without doubt that this conference showed me almost every part of the umbrella term that is “journalism”. The opportunity to take notes on and ask questions of the work and thoughts of these speakers, all accomplished in their careers, is one I believe I will never get anywhere else. I could (and probably will) fill another blog post with insightful quotes I got to hear firsthand from the speakers.

But as amazing as the opportunity I just outlined is, I don’t think it is what made the conference life-changing. When I arrived on Sunday I didn’t think I would ever call WJMC life-changing, mostly because I’ve never called anything life-changing. To me, it’s hard to know when something truly changes your life when you are still experiencing life. That said, I know this conference changed my life. How? Because I know the people I met last week I never would have met otherwise. In a profession where connections mean everything, as we heard throughout the week, having a shared experience like WJMC with 284 other individuals is huge. The 22 youth correspondents I spent most of my week with (side note: I love my yellow group family) could end up being crucial connections in the field some day. But even if they aren’t, they are still people from all over the country I now know. That in itself is something few things could give a rising senior in high school.

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The relationships I made with people I never would have met otherwise, combined with the wisdom and knowledge I took with me, made WJMC a truly life-changing experience. If anyone finds this post next year or years after and is wondering if they should go, there is only one thing I can think to say to them: go. You won’t regret one sleep-deprived moment of it.

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-Victoria Durgin, National Youth Correspondent from Allentown, PA. Yellow group alum of WJMC 2017.

WJMC Day 3: Where I Confirm I am a Politics Nerd.

I’m going to save pictures for separate blog posts, so this will just be my thoughts in words.

Today. Was. Amazing. Absolutely. Amazing.

Let me explain a little. We started the morning off with Susan Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic. She took us on a journey through Nat Geo’s reporting on issues raging from climate change (yes, it’s real, she firmly proclaimed), to the ebola crisis, to endangered species. Her presentation included photos from Nat Geo photographers and videos taken directly from the brand’s website. She encouraged us to follow our passions and find what it is we want to write about. It was all inspiring and amazing to be a part of.

Next up was Nia-Malika Henderson, political reporter for CNN. She used nearly all her time to answer questions from correspondents (like myself) on questions ranging from CNN’s coverage of Trump to allegations of fake news to how she got her start in the industry. Being a part of the conversation was a lot of fun.

After a fabulous lunch we headed to the National Press Club where we became a part of the speaker’s presentation. Brian Lamb, founder of CSPAN, drew us all into conversations about politics and how we communicate our beliefs with others. It was interesting to watch the divide fall between everyone in the room as opinions clashed and went toe to toe. He also  brought students on stage to participate in an interview demonstration, which taught us all a lot about the interviewing process. After Mr. Lamb we heard from the president of the National Press Club who spoke briefly on his experience being the first African-American man to serve as president. His poise and presence drew the whole audience into his thoughts and settled the audience after the discussions we had with Brian Lamb.

Father-daughter pair Terry and Sulome Anderson, both foreign correspondents (Terry is retired from his post at the Associated Press), gave the closing presentation at the press club. As someone who wants to become a foreign correspondent myself, I found everything the two said fascinating and insightful. Terry Anderson’s experiences as a hostage for several years was difficult yet important to hear about. Sulome Anderson gave insightful advice about how to get into (and stay in) the industry. The whole experience was awe-inspiring and informative.

Micheal Shear of the New York Times was the final speaker of the night. He encouraged a robust conversation between all the correspondents on the Trump administration and its relationship with the press. He was humorous and authentic, and seemed to consider us his equals rather than just some kids beneath his intelligence. That attitude drew us all into the discussion and encouraged us to speak openly. It was thought-provoking and a joy to be a part of.

WJMC Day 2: Eric Felten

Today we got to hear from Eric Felten, the managing editor of the Weekly Standard. His talk with us today was informative, especially in how to gain (and keep) a job as a reporter. His four basic rules (make deadlines; stick to word requirements; be accurate; editors are your friends) stuck with me as he spoke about his experiences in the professional world. He also took the time to answer many questions, including one from me. Mr. Felten spoke honestly and freely about his thoughts on “fake news”, how media networks are covering the Trump admin, and more.  His advice on proofreading (do it multiple times) was repeated throughout his presentation to us.

If there is one thing I learned from Eric Felten today, it’s to remain dedicated to your credibility as a reporter before all else. Oh, and if the deadline for your work is at noon, turn the work in at 11.

 

WJMC Day 2, Part One of A Few: The Newseum 

My WJMC experience will need more than just one blog post for each day.

WJMC Day 2 kicked off with an hours long trip to the Newseum. At first, many of us were apprehensive about the amount of time allotted for our trip in the museum. We soon realized why, exactly, we had so much time: there was so much to see. The museum celebrates and highlights the importance of 1st Amendment rights by shining light on the importance of journalism, news, and reporters throughout the major conflicts, joys, and struggles of human history. That may sound boring, but it was pure heaven to me.

From the reporting on 9/11 from those who called NYC home to the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs from those who witnessed genocide, famine, disease, and daily life firsthand, the museum’s exhibits showcase the bravery of, and need for, journalists who can bring the stories and struggles of some to the attention of all. In short, the museum was nothing short of inspirational to an aspiring journalist.

The rest of the pictures from this museum are currently on a camera. Once I get home (and more sleep), I’ll upload everything.IMG_20170717_105001_232[1]

WJMC Day 1

It’s late, but every night will be, so I might as well get used to it.

Day 1 was AMAZING. I can’t believe the rest of the week will be even better. From arrival, to meeting my color group (and GroupMe buddies) I never felt more at home in a new location. 

At tonight’s dinner, Jamie Smith spoke about her experiences in virtually every part of the communcations world. I’ll go more in depth on speeches later on, but for now I’ll just say this: I’ve never written down so many meaningful quotes from one person’s speech. Jamie Smith was an amazing way to kick off this week. 

Also amazing was the color group session we had afterwards. Name That Tune proved to be quite the competitive game, and also the best way to relax with the people I’ll spend so much of this week with.

That’s all for now. Tomorrow is the Newseum and the DC monuments, so I’ll try my hand at some pics along with the words.