"As journalists, I believe, we explore what might be called the Periodic Table of Human Nature. Every life, whether celebrated or obscure, contains the same fundamental emotions, love or hate, ambition or indolence, exhilaration or despair. We just need to drill down deeply enough to discover them."


Samuel G. Freedman, Professor of Journalism at Columbia University, in his book Letters to a Young Journalist. (It is absolutely worth a read.)

Related: Maria Popova’s recent review of The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning. Though it’s not quite about journalism, it is very much about storytelling, curiosity, and the discovery of humanity, which are fundamental to journalism.

She writes,

The book, which passes the skepticism radar even of someone as non-religious as myself, is really about cultivating our capacity for uncertainty, for mystery, for having the right questions rather than the right answers.


FJP: I often wonder about what spirituality and journalism might have in common, one answer to which is that they allow us to foster a similar sort of emotional fortitude.

Popova exercepts the book:

Spirituality is discovered in that space between paradox’s extremes, for there we confront our helplessness and powerlessness, our woundedness. In seeking to understand our limitations, we seek not only an easing of our pain but an understanding of what it means to hurt and what it means to be healed. Spirituality begins with the acceptance that our fractured being, our imperfection, simply is: There is no one to ‘blame’ for our errors — neither ourselves nor anyone nor anything else. Spirituality helps us first to see, and then to understand, and eventually to accept the imperfection that lies at the very core of our human be-ing. 

To the cynic, that might sound a bit self-helpish but now see this, another favorite excerpt from Freedman:

To be witness, observer, and storyteller, and to develop and refine the skills of each, is to accept the burden of independent thought. It is to reject the easy comforts of our conventional wisdom or popular dogma. It is to welcome the dissonance of human events and render that dissonance with coherence and style. All of these exercises stretch the brain and all of them elevate the spirit.

I relate the two thoughts because I think welcoming the dissonance of human events requires us to welcome a fractured self first, which might helps us to ask “spiritual questions.” Popova offers another excerpt:

Listening to stories and telling them helped our ancestors to live humanly — to be human. But somewhere along the way our ability to tell (and to listen to) stories was lost. As life speeded up, as the possibility of both communication and annihilation became ever more instantaneous, people came to have less tolerance for that which comes only over time. The demand for perfection and the craving for ever more control over a world that paradoxically seemed ever more out of control eventually bred impatience with story. As time went by, the art of storytelling fell by the wayside, and those who went before us gradually lost part of what had been the human heritage— the ability to ask the most basic questions, the spiritual questions.

That’s a little Monday morning food for thought, and an insight into what’s drawn me to journalism—a space it seems, that allows for a very continuous, multihued deepening of one’s humanity. —Jihii

Bonus: If you didn’t check out our #whyJournalism survey results from a while back, you can do so here.


(via futurejournalismproject)

28 May 2012 ·

"The reality is that there have never been as few wars as there are today. Humankind has never been as healthy or as wealthy. Our contemporary techno-media wonderland means that whenever a disaster occurs, almost anywhere in the world, we know about it within hours. Only recently, we heard about a cruise ship sinking off the coast of Italy, a shooting incident in Belgium, and a bushfire in Western Australia. Our brains are not really wired to accommodate such a proliferation of bad news, regardless of it happening thousands of miles away. One disaster after another compounds, and increases feelings of helplessness. Does that mean that on some level we’ve lost our way? Absolutely not. But what it does mean is that we need to realize that with the ever-increasing media outlets, we must be vigilant in maintaining our own personal view of happiness."

~ Martin Lindstrom in his recent Fast Company article, How To Be Happy Anywhere

28 February 2012 ·

Where Children Sleep

A friend sent me the link this morning from NY Times Lens Blog (photo/video/visual journalism). This is absolutely moving and creative: James Mollison’s new book, Where Children Sleep, are his stories of different children all around the world told through his photos of their bedrooms.

5 August 2011 ·


"Dehumanization takes devaluation a step further, or many steps further. I become, not Amanda with my many complexities, gifts, and struggles, but “that queer.” Someone else becomes “a welfare mother” or “an illegal immigrant” or “a retard.” Adjectives mutate into nouns, and people get lost. Once someone is dehumanized, it’s easy to ignore their wants and needs, easy to reject their wisdom, and in extreme cases, easy to kill them. All inequality-based violence starts with dehumanization." (Amanda Udis-Kessler in Tikkun, Aug 2010) 

One of my favorite articles ever.

29 July 2011 ·

The current needs and aspirations of 30 million human beings in Iraq should outweigh the American public’s dislike of a few past-tense politicians.

Geoffrey Gresk, Utne Reader, March 2011. This is humanistic journalism.

29 July 2011 ·

On hope and technology

"Knowledge and wisdom that feeds the human spirit and helps us value life itself as the core of all values. We need hope, we need courage and we need each other. We don’t need more greed. And I am just not sure about more technology." Mariane Pearl (one of my heroines) in The Huffington Post (Feb 2010). See a sterling example of her humanistic journalism here.

29 July 2011 ·

Humanism is the last thing taken into consideration.

The Journalist Who Crossed the Line, a collection of stories providing a behind-the-scenes look at the Israeli press. Read the March 2007 Haaretz.com article first.

29 July 2011 ·

The Media & Iraq

"…little effort has been made to deal with the issue of war reporting, the protection of journalists from mental or physical harm, or the hate, racism and dehumanization that reporting about conflicts produces, even in some of the world’s most professional journalists and media outlets." (Daoud Kuttab in International Review of the Red Cross, Dec 2007)

29 July 2011 ·

Journalists should treat sources as human beings deserving of respect.

"What should sources expect from student journalists? For starters, a pledge to seek truth and provide a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Ethical journalists should treat sources as human beings deserving of respect. They should encourage the public to voice grievances over news coverage. All that and much more is in the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. There’s a deep ethical imperative to journalism, generally consistent with the core values at Goshen College." (Duane C. S. Stoltzfus in Media Ethics Magazine)

29 July 2011 ·

If you know the detail of somebody's story, it's difficult to hate them.

As we work out the details of the online media world, we need to consider how users can stumble across of points of view other than their own.” (Carole McNall’s in Media Ethics Magazine)

29 July 2011 ·

The Human Side of al-Qaeda

Emily Wilson’s interview with Laura Poitras on her May 2010 Documentary about Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard (Alternet)

29 July 2011 ·

About Me

I'm @jihiitea.

Curious about news literacy, networked communication, journalism ethics, news design, storytelling, spirituality, and how they all connect. Here is where I meander through the internet.

Most of my blogging about media is over at the Future Journalism Project. Work & Projects are here.