Monday, November 29, 2010

“The Stories Behind the Stories”

Being here at a school like Loyola, we have a lot of opportunities. We have opportunities to develop our faith, our minds and skills relevant to our future careers. Not only do students here have the chance to learn within the classroom, other activities allow us to be students outside the classroom. Attending lectures and seminars is one way to continue this development. And on November 22nd I was able to take advantage of one of these opportunities by attending the lecture “The Stories Behind the Stories” by Mark Bowden. Mr. Bowden is an accomplished author, columnist, teacher and Loyola graduate. While the keynote speaker has written books such as Black Hawk Down, Killing Pablo and Doctor Dealer, he spoke primarily on his life as a journalist, as a reporter. In addition, Bowden expanded a great deal upon the effect of technology on journalism.

Initially, the speaker reflected on his life as a journalist. He noted that the most important and fun thing about being a reporter is getting out and talking to people or traveling to a certain location. In Bowden’s mind, actively and personally reporting is “always worth it.” Bowden made this very clear to his collegiate audience, who is on the technology bubble and who will be involved in various technological changes within journalism and writing as a whole. The author made sure to differentiate between being an advocate and being a reporter. Bowden pointed out to his audience, a group of young adults who are experts with their laptops, that you cannot be a journalist by sitting at an armchair in your living room on your computer. He emphasized that analysts are very different from journalists in that analysts can gather and regurgitate information in a cohesive way. Bowden emphasized the danger of doing this because, as a result, the internet will consist of “four millionth hand information” if no one is going out and physically seeking new data. In contrast, Bowden stressed that the importance and fun within journalism is becoming involved in a story first-hand. Part of being a reporter (in contrast to being an analyst) is that a reporter must personally connect with a location or a person to develop a unique and honest story; a story that their readers will identify with for these reasons. As Bowden noted, there is always a story behind the story that is written and printed.

For me, the Bowden lecture was very engaging and interesting. Not only was I interested because writing is a field that I am deeply interested in, but also because revolutions in careers as a result of technology are increasingly apparent. I will be entering the workforce in the very near future, and it is important to understand how technology is shaping and changing my intended career path. Writing has been increasingly interwoven with other mediums, and Bowden viewed this as a positive. For example, the author described how Black Hawk Down will soon be sold as an e-book, with various video and audio clips, maps and other graphics so that the reader can full immerse himself in the topic. Advances like these can be viewed as negative and positive, but Bowden has certainly taken the right steps to ensure that these changes are for the better. As I listened to him make his point about the interactive adjustments being made available to his original work Black Hawk Down, I was reminded similarly of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Our task to read the play simply does not do it justice. I found my interpretation of acts I and II often times to be led off course and lost in the development of the love triangle at some points. This is a play that should be physically watched by an audience for better understanding. In the same way Bowden’s book Black Hawk Down is being added to as an e-book for physical observation as a means of gaining a better understanding. I liked how Bowden talked not only about his career as a journalist, but how the job is changing, as if to prepare us as potential journalists. This technique prevented the lecture from being an I-remember-when-I-was-your-age talks and instead made the lecture fun, instructive and engaging for all people in attendance.

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