Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Something About a Feeling

I read this series of articles a couple weeks ago, but I can't stop thinking about it. These are articles written about what happens at home when an American soldier is killed abroad. This series is so beautifully written, and although it was published a whole five years ago, it is so timeless and heartfelt that it is still so relevant. In fact, in 2005 Jim Sheeler won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, and I say, well deserved. It takes a while to read, it comes in twelve parts, but I promise it is worth your time, if you have any. And if you don't, just read the first one. (But, I can't promise you won't want to read all twelve)

http://www.pulitzer.org/works/2006-Feature-Writing

I think a story like this is relevant especially on a day like today when three more soldiers have died in Pakistan. That is really what got me thinking about it today. You hear all the time about countries losing soldiers, and besides a shallow feeling of sympathy for their families, rarely do you think of the long term effects of losing each person.

Mostly, this story is so important to me because it truly exemplifies what true journalism really should do. It is not necessarily just to inform, but to make you feel... feel something, anything for what is happening in your world. Whether you are angry, or sad, or elated, journalism should hit something inside you, and make you feel something for other people, in other situations. See things in a different way. This is what Jim Sheeler has done for me, weeks after reading his articles: I read the story about these soldiers dead in Pakistan and I really and truly thought about what affect that news has. Instead of just skimming over that same story that comes by every month (about losing soldiers overseas), I really read it, and thought about the lasting affect of those deaths. He has made me see, at least this piece of news, with a refreshed reality. He made me think and feel in a human way for a news story that is written to be skimmed. He has made it real. And that, is what every journalist should aspire to: true, human, emotional reality.

If I could write like Jim Sheeler... well, I guess I would have a Pulitzer.

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