Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI // Buy this photo
During my last semester at the University of Delaware, my journalism professor, McKay Jenkins, talked about his infant son’s fascination with everything he came into contact with. The child was impressed with whatever was placed in front of him — pontificating, let’s say, a cassette tape. Holding it. Eyeing it. Tasting it. Transfixed by its very existence. The boy found the ordinary extraordinary. I don’t have much experience with children. But I hear this is normal.
Jenkins said we, as journalists, should strive to view the world this way. He said we should look with “childlike eyes.” This, he said, would ensure we would never get stale at our jobs. We’d avoid the fatigue of the news routine. It would propel us to always be open to people’s stories and realizing the potential in the “every day.”
Jenkins was my mentor. He set me on course to become a journalist. I remember sitting in the back row of his class on a September morning when a classmate asked if anyone saw that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. A few of us had watched the morning news before heading to campus, but none of us could have imagined the events that would unfold later that morning. We were children on the cusp of adulthood. We didn’t have a choice on how to view what was happening.
I find myself ruminating over current events in the past few months. I’ve watched the “Arab Spring” bloom in the Middle East. And while I’ve been inspired by a generation of young Arabs demanding democracy and standing up for themselves, two of my heroes died covering the conflict in Libya. I never knew them. But I admired their work. I admired them for what they did. Their deaths make me sad. And people debate whether it was worth it — covering war. I don’t think that’s a fair question.
Last week’s killing of Osama Bin Laden brought a measured sigh of relief. It closed a chapter — the only chapter I’ve really known since starting in this profession. I’m wary of the next chapter.
And with all of the revolutions and death and natural disasters, sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just how lovely this world can be. Recently it took flying over Wiggins Pass on an assignment to shoot aerial photographs, only to look down at a few pelicans flying over the Gulf waters. I know it was the different perspective, but I remembered Jenkins’ philosophy. So an ordinary flock of pelicans became extraordinary. Good advice. Thanks Jenkins.
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Connect with Tristan Spinski at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tristin-spinski/