Learning good journalism from a trip to Liberia
Aneri Pattani graduated from Northeastern University a few years ago and had, at that time, a perfect opportunity, career-wise. Well, did she take it? Of course, yes! She got a week to spend in Liberia, travelling and learning, with none other than Nicholas Kristof (Nick). He’s a New York Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, as you would already know. Pattani had a lot to learn from him, as she saw him taking interviews in the pursuit of unique stories. These stories included the challenges of rural people, from food shortage or no availability of transportation to no efficient medical aid.
These are the stories that we read in newspapers, sympathise for a minute and move on to the celebrities’ page. However, when Pattani encountered them, she was moved to the core. “I see journalism as a way to learn more every day and try to work on my own ignorance and understand the different ways people live,” she said. “In a lot of ways that’s what I took away from this trip, but on an international scale.”
Pattani got this opportunity from the annual ‘Win a Trip with Nick’ Contest, put forth by Times’ and took full advantage of it. Some of the blog posts she wrote on her trip were published by The Times. Her blog posts contained the daily problems of the people and how she was better equipped on this trip than her. “My suitcase had antimalarials,” she wrote. “The hospital did not. My suitcase had ibuprofen. The hospital did not. My suitcase had acetaminophen. The hospital did not.”
Pattani credits most of her skills to Nick, who gave the most valuable lesson of good journalism – it is important to simply be able to talk to people. Now, when people ask her about her whole reporting experience, she says, “Because it’s intimidating to me, this is the perfect opportunity to learn from someone who does this for a living, and who clearly does it well”.