There are many steps one must take in order to pursue their dreams. A few months ago, I attended a journalism conference in New York. It was a rather memorable time and something that has helped shape my career even further. 9/11 was one of America’s most horrific tragedies. Not only were there firefighters and police, there were also reporters there whose mission it was to get the story. I attended a workshop during my stay that put the art of journalism into better perspective.
How many can say they’ve personally sat down and spoken with a journalist who covered 9/11 the day it happened? How many can say they’ve watched tears fall from their eyes as they tried to explain what they saw? And how many can say they were able to look them in the eyes afterwards and ask personal questions on the matter that brought tears to their eyes once more? I’m lucky enough to say that I have…
I had just gotten off a plane from sunny Orlando, Fla., to Newark, N.J. My flight had left at around six a.m. and landed at around nine a.m. I was deprived of sleep, but I guess you could say seeing snow for the first time in my life definitely kicked me back to my senses. It was not long before I arrived at the NYC College Media conference with my colleague, who arrived to New York the same time I did. We met up with a club advisor of my current college and another colleague. I wouldn’t rather have been anywhere else in the world at that moment. Attending a journalism convention in The Big Apple itself was a dream come true. After listening to a guest speaker, we all went across the street and grabbed lunch. I remember sitting across from the advisor watching her eat a sandwich she ordered when all of a sudden she asked, “Are you going to that 9/11 conference thing later today?”
The 9/11 workshop was an offsite event that King’s College was hosting. You had to RSVP in advance, which I did do. I received an email giving me details on where to meet up and what the workshop consisted of. There were going to be actual reporters that reported on the day of 9/11 and who saw the tragedy happen right in front of them. This intrigued me.
At the table, we looked up on the map where King’s College was. It was in Brooklyn, which was about a 30 minute drive from where the conference was in Times Square. No one else in my group wanted to go since it was a touchy subject, and it could get pretty emotional. So, it was a solo mission for me. I got back to the hotel, crashed for a little over an hour, charged my phone, packed my bag and called myself an Uber to take me to Brooklyn.
When I arrived, I was a little nervous because The King’s College was not very visible to begin with. It was a little tucked away from street view. I looked at my watch and the time read 5:45 p.m. The workshop was beginning in 15 minutes. I thought to myself this was no time to be lost, this had better be the right place. Once I got out of the car, I saw a glass door that said King’s College on it. Thank God, I found it. I was redirected to the student union. To my surprise, I was one of the first students to arrive. About three others trickled in. I was surprised on how few showed up.
I sat down on one of the couches next to a circular table. The other students and I began to chat and talk about where we attended college, our major and what not. Three elder men also came in the room and introduced themselves to each of us personally. They were the event coordinators, and I was impressed by how humble they portrayed themselves and how interested they were in hearing each of our backgrounds. The King’s College was also nice enough to buy cookies, sandwiches and chips from a shop nearby. God knows I was hungry by late afternoon.
Time passed by, and the organizers began the workshop. Since only a couple of us attended, we all sat around the circular table I was next to facing one another. After each of us spoke a little about ourselves, we were given copies of articles written by reporters on the World Trade Center tragedy. We each read paragraphs aloud to stay engaged and analyze text.
The highlight of that workshop was meeting a man by the name of Clemente Lisi. Lisi was not only a professor at The King’s College and co-director of their journalism program, but he was also assigned to cover the horrific incident that struck the Twin Towers. He explained that day to us from his point of view.
“My heart sank. I was immediately overcome with sadness. … I was no longer a reporter, I was a New Yorker watching his beloved city being destroyed,” Lisi stated as his eyes began to water. He went on to say that the sight of the building falling with people screaming was the one thing he recalled the most. “I will never forget the loud crunching sound those steel beams made as the building came crashing down,” Lisi added.
After hearing the story on reporting the scene, we were able to ask questions. I asked Lisi how he was able to jump back into the mindset of being a reporter. He answered that it was instinct. Yes, it was difficult, but as a reporter, that is what you are trained to do.
Afterwards, we ended the night by walking past the new World Trade Center, which is called One World Trade Center. We then arrived at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, where we ended the workshop. I did not go into the museum since I was a little pressed for time. However, I did stick around to gaze at the memorial. It was nighttime, and the air was so crisp and bitterly chilly. Looking at this vast square structure they had built in place of the World Trade Center with water pouring down the sides into a mysterious dark opening in the middle left an airy feel. It was slightly haunting with a hint of peace.
I will never forget this experience and the staff I met that night at The King’s College. They are passionate about their students, and it only opened more doors for me. The world of journalism might be getting flushed away with “fake news” nowadays, but it is important to remember the true art of reporting the facts and the raw experience.