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WEB & SOCIAL MEDIA
My parents had no idea what to do with me.
One morning around the time I was 6 or 7 years old my mother awoke to a sticky, gooey purple liquid that had begun to solidify and made a complete mess of our refrigerator front and the wood floor at its feet. She quickly wiped her finger through a portion of the purple stuff, sniffed it and yelled, “Christopher!” To be fair, it smelled sweet and was purple so a kid must be to blame for the mess. However, I knew it wasn't my doing. “Christopher!” But I really had nothing to do with it. My parents later realized a bottle of grape snow-cone syrup laying on its side on top of the refrigerator had begun to seep the purple stuff out of its screw-top cap and down the front of the refrigerator. When they realized it wasn’t my fault and had incorrectly blamed me I angrily questioned, “Why didn't you believe me?!”
Truth. Truth has always been important to me. And what a time to be alive when politicians are caught blatantly lying about their past credentials in an effort to get elected and then suffer no ramifications once all lies are discovered. Our country is divided and there are a slew of buzz words to fire up the opposition. Fake news, alternative facts, disinformation, pseudoscience, yellow journalism, astroturfing, cherry picking, clickbait, circular reporting, newspeak, truthiness. Americans' confidence in the media has been anemic for almost 20 years now. Last October, Gallup conducted a poll to discover the current level of public trust in the media's fair and accurate reporting of the news. It was the 2nd lowest level in history with only 34% of Americans polled having a "great deal" or "fair amount" of confidence in both TV news and newspapers. What are young journalists getting themselves into?
Full disclosure: My father, Chris Gloff Sr, is one of my media instructors and advisers. Prior to entering high school, I had a front row seat watching him and his colleague, Mr. Brent Barber, lead classes of high school journalists on interesting adventures: new media creations, award-winning newscasts, field trips, and career pathways. I thought his class would be a safe, non-threatening freshmen year elective. So there I sat as a 14 year-old pimply-faced freshman in a course which required me to use my high-pitched, boy soprano voice. My father started the first day by telling us this course wasn’t about becoming journalists but rather about finding our voices. I wasn’t interested in hearing my voice, much less finding it. Yet, the processes involved in telling important stories were compelling to me from the start. I listen back to the early recordings of me from that first year and I cringe, but eventually my voice slipped into its now tenor-baritone range, I grew a foot or so and the pimples cleared up.
The start of the pandemic occurred toward the end of my freshmen year and this brought new challenges. Our “newsroom” became a shared Google Drive in which we learned to collaborate and build newscasts from our individual homes while in quarantine. However, these challenges also afforded us time to explore the landscape of news media and develop a new way to deliver news via social media as we created our Snapchat newscast, CPTV News QuickCut. Our new show went on to win the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Chicago/Midwest Chapter’s Crystal Pillar and NATAS’s National Student Production Award in the Newscast category. Ultimately, these experiences led me to consider what role journalism might play in my future studies.
In my first high school Latin course, our teacher taught us the Latin word “vocare,” which means “to call,” and it is the root for the word “vocation.” Years ago a family friend directed my attention to theologian and writer Frederick Buechner who, in his book Wishful Thinking, defines vocation as “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Like any noble purpose in our world, a calling should be both meaningful to one’s self and important to the world beyond the self. According to Buechner, if you love your job you’ve met the requirement of the first half of his definition. The next trick is to find a way to “meet the world’s hunger” with your gifts and calling.
I believe this is where journalism plays a significant role in my life’s journey. I’m passionate about the truth and the world simply has a deep hunger for truth right now. In all of my studies over the last 12 years I don’t remember the word “truth” ever being mentioned as a pillar of a republic, yet to me, truth is not only a pillar but rather the foundation on which a people should build a republic. Therefore, I believe it is necessary to continue to work toward earning back the trust of people by connecting them to unbiased truths about our world so all people might live, work, vote, function and thrive in a democracy. Naive? Maybe, but can you think of another institution which has a greater ability to affect our course by ethically informing the masses?
I hope my abilities and love for broadcast journalism continue to allow me to listen and learn from other’s stories, challenge the status quo, ask difficult questions, give a voice to the oppressed, fight for social justice and advocate for truth.
A few years ago, American filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted, "If your dream only includes you, it's too small." With this in mind, I continue to search for opportunities to work within healthy teams of people creating a spirit conducive to learning and growing, collaboration and communal growth. In a word, I seek to dream BIG.
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