Advice to Aspiring Journalists

Adapted from a letter written to Enig Gazzia

Giselle Fernandez,
Business Woman
Television Journalist

August 29, 2000

Thank you for visiting Casa Giselle and seeking my advice on becoming a journalist. Nothing gives me more pride than to learn of others with big dreams to achieve their highest potentials. I am heartened that you would dream of a career in journalism as I am convinced it is one of the most noble professions there is to better the lives of others. It is so very rewarding in all ways. Personally, it has given me the opportunity to learn and travel and see firsthand all arenas of life. It has also afforded me a front row seat to history as it unfolds and to see all of humanity at its best and most dramatic. We human beings create great theater whether it's triumphant or tragic. Writing about it all gives us great opportunity to learn what we are capable of, both good and bad.

I became a journalist because I had a love affair with humanity. I love people and the spirit within us all that enables us to create and survive and achieve. I see this in every story -- the human being's ability to transform and manifest brilliance as well as tragedy. Reporting gave me an opportunity to reveal the best and worst of who we are to society which enabled me to hold up a mirror to all. It's through this reflection we have a chance to expose our greatness and our weaknesses so we can learn from them and better who we are as a people. That is where the great responsibility comes in as a journalist. Whether exposing corruption to protect the common man, exposing great injustice imposed on the disadvantaged, or fraud that is unfairly imposed on consumers, we have the opportunity to correct wrongs and make them right. Similarly, the stories we tell with great honor and care can also reveal our greatest natures and inspire others to reach their highest selves.

This is the greatest job of all. I have traveled the world. I have seen so many cultures. I have witnessed the diversity of thought, culture and ways of living that have enriched my world and my perception of who we are and what we are capable of. This is the great journey that journalism affords. It's a mission not a just a job or star vehicle. We have the chance to uphold the First Amendment in the purest of ways. We are lucky because it's that amendment that ensures our freedom to see ourselves separate from government, separate from controlling interests and take charge of our own destinies. The Internet has democratized even further this right to free information and free speech. How lucky we are to live in this country where free thought, expression and access to information allows us to make free choices regarding the ways we live, grow, think and create. This is what I like most about my work -- the ability to hold up this mirror in the most responsible of ways, that would ensure our freedom and ability to see ourselves honestly so we would have the chance to transform and better who we are. I loved the travel. I loved the diversity of subjects to learn about. I loved the sense of mission.

The only advice I would give any young journalist would be to embrace this sense of mission. Yes, read, read. Yes, be curious and open to all forms of thought and lifestyles. Yes, learn to turn a phrase and spark a love affair with history that lends perspective. But more than anything, embrace the work as a sense of mission that can better the lives of others. Humanity and a sense of compassion in all reporting, even in the tough and tragic assignments, is the key to understanding. I remember a piece I read by Hunter S. Thompson on the Ku Klux Klan. It is not an easy challenge to remember the humanity in this kind of story. But even those who are evil have a lesson to teach. By trying desperately to understand the seed of their evil, and the humanity in them, generates much more understanding about how to cure these evils than just the facts might suggest. I always hope that those reporting look beyond the obvious to excavate the heart and soul of man that leads to either the triumph or tragedy of actions. It's from understanding that we report our best and learn most from. Therefore, the role of the journalist in society is to hold up a mirror to ourselves so that we see exactly where we have been, where we are going and the consequences our actions have on us all. Again, it's this reflection that gives us an opportunity to reflect, change and grow. Does journalism make us free? No. But it certainly is a product of freedom that allows us to keep fighting for. Knowledge is power. The more information we have access to, the more truth we have exposure to, the more we are able to be self-reliant and take charge of our future. It's a great consequence of freedom.

Remember, journalism is a fancy word for storyteller. Be a great storyteller that can help change the world. I wish you the very best of luck and thank you for thinking enough of me to visit my Website and read my thoughts on the matter. May you always reach for your highest potential in all you do.

Giselle Fernandez

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