A great reminder

Bryan Anderson, Elon alumnus and reporter for the Associated Press, visited our class and reminded me why I started in journalism in the first place

One of the incredible assets to come out of the pandemic is the use of Zoom. While video conferencing technology is not new, I am astonished by all we have managed to get out of the technology since COVID-19 required us to interact virtually. By far my favorite use of Zoom is being able to video conference with my family, but a close second is interacting with industry professionals in clubs and the classroom, people who otherwise would have been inaccessible due to time constraints and location. 

During one of our Reporting for the Public Good classes, we met with Bryan Anderson. Anderson is an Elon alumnus who now works with the Associated Press in North Carolina. As he talked with us, I was most interested in his stories from the field. From covering weather devastation to the Department of Motor Vehicles, I loved how Anderson always found his story by focusing on the people. He could have written about the policies at the DMV, or the level of intensity of the storm, but instead he wrote about the people waiting in line, and the people who hid in their bathroom, waiting for the storm to pass.

Bryan Anderson, Elon alumnus, visited JOU 310 to discuss his work with Report for America. | Photo courtesy of Report for America

When I started in journalism, I was thirteen years old. I wrote about the playground in my neighborhood that was about to be torn down. I spoke with parents, kids, a man who helped build the playground 13 years ago, and the class designing the new playground. I remember sitting on a bench next to the man who had helped build the original one. He told me stories about his children playing on the big wooden structure, the splinters they got and the lessons they learned bounding across the mulch chips playing tag, or hide and seek. I could have written about how much the new playground was going to cost, or the policy that made the old one obsolete, but as a 13 year old, I cared about the people, not the procedure. 

Listening to Anderson, I was reminded of that childlike joy I feel after a great interview. The buzz of excitement when you write out a great quote. Writing about people will always be my why in journalism, and Anderson’s talk in class served as a great reminder of that. To view more of Anderson’s work, click here.