Many people have told me they can’t be writers because they are bad at spelling and grammar. Though these are skills I’m still developing, the greatest obstacle I faced was convincing myself that I had what it took to work as a journalist.
When I first signed up for the Feature Article Writing course at Gotham, I wasn’t sure that I could still learn how to be a journalist. I thought that the fact that I didn’t attend journalism school barred me from the field.
My teacher, Lara Ewen, challenged us from day one with writing prompts and she encouraged us to submit our work to publications. She asked questions that were oftentimes hard to answer like, “who said that?”, “is that a fact or your opinion?”, and the most complicated of all for me—“why is this news?” Though the learning curve was steep and the homework was often time-consuming, Lara’s persistence and encouragement turned us into journalists. She pushed us to pitch the articles we wrote for class and several of us were published writers by the time the course ended.
In my case, the money I made from the articles I published paid for the course.
One article I wrote as a homework assignment ended up being published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency where I freelanced for several months before accepting a full-time position as an Editorial Assistant.
The skills I learned during the course and the support I received from Lara guided me throughout this past year as I’ve reported on topics like the issues victims of domestic violence have faced during Covid and the intersection of religion and gender identity for a transgender musician in Brazil.
Thank you, Lara and Gotham for setting me up for this new career path!
Caleb A. Guedes-Reed