This post is part of an occasional series of reflections written by students from our 2016 Summer Investigative Reporting Workshop.
By Elida Kocharian, California
Promptly after taking my seat on the first day of class, I realized that everything I thought I knew about journalism was absolutely wrong—and that was a good thing.
In two weeks of intense classes, independent reporting, and exciting challenges, my eyes opened to a world of questions that I, as a reporter, could answer. I learned that investigative reporting isn’t just about breaking scandals like Watergate or the Panama Papers, writing good leads, and vetting sources—it’s about holding the powerful accountable and bettering the world, one article at a time. From meeting Mike Rezendes, a celebrity in the journalism world for his work in the Boston Globe’s uncovering of [the] Catholic priest scandal in 2001, to getting article after article shredded with red ink until near-perfection by my fantastic instructor, Harry Proudfoot, my experience was one of awe, instruction, and personal and intellectual growth.
After attending the program, my writing has improved exponentially. I look back at my old articles in my school newspaper and shudder at how happily ignorant I was of the difficult and coveted art of news and editorial writing. I came to the program thinking that I was a more-than-competent reporter and was immediately proven wrong – Mr. Proudfoot saw to that, with his sharp, astute remarks and unforgiving red pen. I set out to prove myself as the more-than-competent writer that I thought I was. Proudfoot threw us assignment after assignment, deadline after deadline, and I met them all with a humbled modesty and determination, taking every critique as an opportunity to learn and improve. Then, our last assignment came along: write an editorial about a topic that deeply concerns you at your high school. I poured my heart into a resolute call for mental health and suicide awareness, determined to do justice to the topic by creating a professional, biting, and powerful article. On the last day of class, Professor Proudfoot handed our editorials back. The only comment, written in red ink at the bottom of the page, read, “You’re hired.”
Along with journalistic revelations, the unforgettable highlight of my time at the workshop was undoubtedly the incredibly genuine friendships I made with the infinitely interesting young journalists around me. Our collective experience as pseudo-Terriers felt like the real thing; BU welcomed us with open arms and we found endless laughter and fun within our community. After morning and afternoon classes, we took to Boston in high-energy field trips to Fenway Park, the JFK Library, and Newbury Street. We often spent sunny days exploring the Esplanade, a stretch of grassy park that runs against the Charles River. But the best part by far were the people I was with. There was never a moment where I wasn’t crying with laughter, thanks to the unerring humor and love of my fast new friends from across the country. We became journalists together, staying up to ungodly hours of night working on our investigative stories and spending the Fourth of July under the bright colors of a Boston sky. The sense of community within the program was truly unique and come the last day of the program, I almost didn’t want to go back home. When I did go home, I returned as a young journalist with open eyes and an open mind, ready to go deeper into every story, to expect the unexpected, to take risks, and to make our world a fair, just, and better place.