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Why I Became a Journalist

I’m not in it for the money or chance of fame. The journalism industry is a dying business. Audiences are no longer watching the news on their television; they have access to breaking news stories for free, while companies spend hundreds of thousands putting together stories. The main reason I chose to become a journalist is to become a voice for the people — to seek the truth. Journalists give up their rights to protect the rights of the people.

Being a journalist is one of the most dangerous career paths, under first responders and active-duty military servicemen. Since 1992, 1,359 journalists have been killed on duty. The statistics are staggering. At the University of Central Florida, the journalism program is the most switched out major on campus due to the high amounts of stress and emotional distress. However, getting the opportunity to interview amazing everyday people is what keeps me going down this path.

An idol of mine in the journalism world is 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley. With over fifty years as a journalist, Pelley has covered the likes of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S recession of 2008 and even interviewed a handful of presidents and celebrities. For a course I was taking, my class was given the opportunity to read his non-linear memoir, Truth Worth Telling, since it would provide insight into our future in the field.

Pelley’s book was truly inspiring for a student journalist, and I connected with his recollections of the military servicemen and women who placed their lives on the line for their fellow men and country. Within the book were stories of Colonel Schank (a battlefield nurse whose selflessness saved lives), Corporal Kenny Lyon (a young man fighting for his life after being injured) and Lance Corporal David Hall (a man who gave his life protecting his fellow servicemen), each of which hit a spot in my heart.

 Growing up in a military household, I spent the majority of my childhood without my father. This was because, for three key years of my life, he was stationed overseas in Iraq. I was too young to understand the severity of it all, but in 2006 my father’s vehicle hit an IED and we were thousands of miles apart. In Corporal Lyon, I imagined my father in his place receiving similar treatment at the hospital in Balad, Iraq. With Colonel Schank, I saw the brave nurse fighting and giving it her all to keep my father alive and in Lance Corporal Hall, the man who took the brunt of it all to protect him. Their stories are what drive me to continue down this path and hopefully be able to tell the stories of other great men and women on the frontline.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4

Skyler Shepard is a sophomore at the University of Central Florida. She's a Print/Digital Journalism Major with an Asian Studies Minor. She's someone especially interested in foreign affairs and hopes to work overseas after graduation.
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