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The Student News Site of Buena Vista University

The Tack Online

The Student News Site of Buena Vista University

The Tack Online

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BVTV News (April 23, 2024)
BVTV News (April 23, 2024)
May 24, 2024
Broken branches, broken legacy
Broken branches, broken legacy
May 16, 2024
Joan Curbow: The ultimate Beaver
Joan Curbow: The ultimate Beaver
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April 26, 2024

I’m not a journalist… or so I thought

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On Feb. 2, 2023, I came face to face with a label I had resisted throughout my collegiate career.

The conclusion of the Iowa College Media Association’s award ceremony traditionally culminates by naming the Pat Pisarik Student Journalist of the Year. That night was no different. I knew I had been selected as a finalist for the distinguished award and I was already grateful for being considered among the best collegiate storytellers across the state of Iowa. As the speaker outlined the qualities of the selected award winner, the room seemed to fade away. My leg began to bounce. My heart fluttered as I made eye contact with my professor, Dr. Andrea Frantz, who reached out and grabbed my hand. The comfort in that hand symbolized the guiding principles she had helped instill in me throughout my college career to that point. Those principles were grounded in core journalistic values.

The ICMA official continued speaking. I heard “…unbiased contributors to democracy…”  through the speakers followed by, “intensive, researched reporting” and “had aspirations to assist in restoring trust in the media…” I immediately recognized the guiding principles as I lifted my head and heard my name announced as the 2022 Student Journalist of the Year. Suddenly, there I was. A self-defined multimedia storyteller undeniably embracing the role of a journalist.

Receiving an award like this would have seemed crazy to me a few years prior. As I prepared to enter college, I knew I had a fascination with the field of media, but I was adamantly opposed to being labeled a journalist. Growing up in a society hypercritical of reporting made me deeply wary of being seen as an “enemy of the people.” Many sources told me that journalists do little good, inflame emotions and further divide people. But, of course, I could not have been more wrong.

Over the course of my college career, I discovered a love for storytelling and providing a voice to the voiceless. Whether I wanted it or not, those passions morphed me into a journalist. Reporting on stories about education, agriculture, science and law I began to recognize the fearless mentality required to ask hard questions, listen to answers and put those answers in context with further research. Something necessary for community advancement. As I gathered and told stories across platforms, I started to understand that journalism truly is the foundation of democracy. It holds the powerful accountable and highlights issues affecting the many. Thorough, ethical journalism advances society by granting access to information, allowing for informed decision-making and opinions.

Undeniably, news media have the power to drive public conversation, but what I have recognized is the field does not take lightly the responsibility that accompanies this power. As a storyteller — yes, a journalist — I have been driven to discover the truth and advance audiences with what I have learned. Journalism is driven by truth, accuracy and fairness.

I attribute my dramatic shift in mindset to the stories I have been able to tell, the experience I have gained in the field, and my own awareness of what good journalism offers audiences. Despite attending a private university, where the First Amendment might not apply, I have never been told, “No, you cannot pursue that story.” Instead, I have been pushed to ask uncomfortable questions in order to tell comprehensive stories. No administrator or adviser ever tried to silence my work or that of my peers. And that freedom not only provided me with an appreciation for those who face controversial topics head on each day, but also bolstered my confidence to pursue and tell stories that matter.

Without a free student press, the country runs the risk of losing a profession vital to its democracy. We are, after all, the next generation of professionals. The freedom to ask difficult questions is at the heart of critical thinking and media literacy, something America desperately needs more of these days.

I’m not a journalist. At least, that’s what I thought. But what I’ve come to understand is being a journalist is synonymous with ethical storytelling. A journalist is unafraid to ask tough questions and listen to all voices, even when it’s uncomfortable. Telling stories that matter, that inform, and advance audiences is what drives me. So, yeah, I guess I’m a journalist. And now I don’t shy from that title.

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About the Contributor
Joshua Tigges
Joshua Tigges, Staff
Hello, I'm Joshua Tigges, a Junior Digital Media major with a minor in Psychology from Carroll, IA. My love for photography started at a young age and has blossomed ever since. Now, I can't help but gaze at the awe of the natural world and capture its beauty in a single frame, frozen as a moment in time. While primarily contributing photographs of the adventures I embark on, my passions for Agriculture and Racing media aspire potential stories that reveal human interest events around campus and the Storm Lake community. Whether a camera in hand or formulating a life's story one key at a time, storytelling drives my soul!

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