Aspiring Journalist Gains Confidence after CJA Talk

By: Reese Lorton, Jerseyville Community High School 

Chicago journalists Stephanie Choporis and Mike Chamernik recently spoke with my high school journalism class, sharing their experiences in the field and providing helpful advice for those of us planning to pursue a journalism major. Though a variety of topics were discussed, from job opportunities to practical advice for reporting and writing, I felt most greatly impacted by hearing about the fluid nature of both Choporis and Chamernik’s journalistic careers. They described feeling unprepared for certain internships in college and clarified that feeling out of your element is natural. It was very reassuring to learn that people who have a significant amount of experience in the journalism field still find themselves in situations where they have to learn and adapt. 

Furthermore, Choporis and Chamernik emphasized the importance of the reporting process, which is the aspect of journalism that I’ve frequently felt least confident in. I experienced quite an intense adjustment period when I initially began reaching out to sources for interviews and approaching people I had never interacted with previously. The entire interviewing process felt incredibly intimidating to me, as someone who did not consider myself a very extroverted person. 

However, because I truly love writing articles and learning about the life experiences and opinions of others, I was able to push past my insecurities. Personally, I now find the reporting process to be just as exciting and enjoyable as writing articles. Next year, I will be one of two editors for my school’s newspaper and by listening to Choporis and Chamernik, I’ve realized how imperative it will be for me to push new writers to become comfortable and confident reporters. 

Overall, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to learn from active journalists. I feel considerably more sure in my decision to pursue a journalism major and I am also excited to integrate some of the elements we discussed into my school’s program in the future.