When pressed as to why I want to be a journalist, I frequently respond in a manner such as this: because I love talking to people and hearing their story. Stories are many things — interesting, endearing, thought-provoking and important. Why? Why are stories important? That question is answered many times in “Telling True Stories,” a book I am reading for my feature writing class.
This book was written for people like me, people who are captivated by others and love learning. I read the beginning out loud, with my roommate, and there were numerous times I stopped my speech to interject comments such as “Yes,” or “Totally!” One such passage was a quote Jacqui Banaszyski mentions in her “Stories Matter.” She relates something Katherine Lanpher told her: “At the heart of every issue is a human element that leads to the three most beautiful words in the English language: What happened next?”
What a powerful quote. What happened next? I find myself continually thinking that in my head. One of the things I took away from this reading is the need to express my curiosity. It is one thing to be inquisitive, yet it is an entirely other thing to live inquisitively. Katherine Boo addressed this in “Difficult Journalism That’s Slap-Up Fun,” saying, “Curiosity is a muscle. The more you use it, the more it can do.” This is one of my goals for the semester — to question more things more frequently.
I was also struck by the emphasis all of the featured authors put on reporting. Obviously, reporting is important. I already knew that. But upon reading these passages, I now feel sheepish of my past reporting skills. I feel like one gigantic slacker. Hopefully I can change that and put an increased amount of time into finding out an infinite number of facts.
As I finish this post, I would like to remind you to ask those three words today: What happened next?