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The Power of Words

February 21, 2010

 When I first became a journalist more than 14 years ago, all I cared about was seeing my name in the paper on the next day. This feeling continued for the first 2-3 months of my career. Until one day when I had written a short story about a group of people who lost their jobs due to financial problems their employer had at the time.

 I was touched with that story so I tried not to focus on the loss of their jobs, rather, I wanted to explain to the society what does it mean when some one loses his job and what lies beyond it and how such decision can make hundreds of families disparate and frustrated. And explain to the people that those who lost their jobs had mouths to feed. Have children at home waiting for them to come home with some food in their hands or a sack of fruits or vegetables or even some crackers to shut up their roaring stomachs of hunger.

 The impact of the story and the immediate action that was taken in response to what I had written and the phone calls I received made me forget the chill I used to have when I read my name on the front page or the inside pages. Only then, I realised how powerful and effective a reporter can be through his writing. Being a journalists is not only a career for me anymore. I don’t care if my name is published or not. I don’t care if people talk about how good I am or not. But I would very much frustrated if what I write becomes just another story in the archive.

 There is no doubt that words can create impressions and leave people with expectations, they could also build psychological connections due to the fact that they have a strange influence on how we think. We, as journalists, should understand the connection and the link between what we write and the results expected, since thoughts determine our actions. The fact that journalists contribute to changing the mindsets in the society make the responsibility on their shoulder greater to be fair, just and straight.

 For this reason we should be careful in what we write and the way we write it for the fact that it will leave an impression on thousands of our readers, either positive or negative.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2010 3:07 pm

    Hani, you are so right. Words are extremely powerful but what is even more powerful is how we chose the stories that we write. While it seems rewarding to get our names on the front page of the paper with sensationalist stories what is more important is the impact that our stories make on the people.

    Social stories are not always the most popular articles in the paper. As Social Welfare Reporter I write about people all the time and often my stories are bumped a day or two or are relegated to later pages, but I accept it cos what I write about is fulfilling and helps others. I would rather have my name synonymous with these rich stories than with “storm in a teacup” types that are pushed by editors cos they presumably sell papers.

    Also, luckily in this modern age the traditional “front page” is no longer the main focus of the news because web pages can be changed continuously there are new stories going up all the time.

  2. Elisa Di Benedetto permalink
    February 23, 2010 3:10 am

    I have the same feeling Ruth: my stories are often relegated to later pages. But the impact of our stories on people is sort of a thermometer for how important some issues can be, especially when our words are followed by action.

    During the Conferences I participated in the small groups discussion on the power of words. It was one of the most interesting discussion I had. Sharing my opinions with journalists coming from countries so different from mine helped me to get a better understanding of the role media and words can have and how powerful word can be.

  3. February 23, 2010 4:00 am

    Hani, the anecdote that you shared rang true to everyone’s mind, I am sure of it. Words can make or break a story or create harmony or chaos in the society, of that there is no doubt. And I would have to agree with Ruth and Elisa, that human interest stories sort of take a backseat, because in the views of the employers they “do not sell”, but I beg to differ, because instead of showing the story in which, say, an act of terrorism has taken place, if we focus on the impact it has on the lives of those affected by it, I believe it would have a more far reaching impact than the death toll! Therefore, during our group discussions also, this point was discussed…………..words and the placement of the story in the correct format is of vital importance.

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