At first I was a little intimidated by this assignment. I was nervous about coming up with a story on my idea and taking a picture. As I contacted my sources and they responded, I began to feel better.
Once I had conducted all my interviews and gathered the information I needed, I had trouble tying it all together. It was as if I hit a “writer’s block”. My sources didn’t flow together and my sentence structure was redundant. As bad as it seemed, this story was a learning experience and I am sure I will improve in time, hopefully before I take reporting.
I don’t smoke cigarettes but like many people I know quite a few people who do, including some relatives. I have seen people become dependent on cigarettes and I have seen others succesfully quit smoking. It all goes back to inner strength and desire.
When I was younger, I remember watching “truth” commercials on the television. Although they seemed a bit blunt, I always enjoyed them and thought they were a good idea. I wanted to be involved in the organization somehow. I wanted to be one of the people walking by with a star over their head.
I noticed there are less “truth” commercials these days and that saddens me. I feel that in today’s society, the television is one of the best ways to get your ideas/campaigns across. I know the commercials are most likely scarce due to funding, but I wish they would come back. Even if the commercials don’t help current smokers, they may educate people who don’t smoke and help prevent someone from picking up a cigarette.
My idea for my environmental/health/science story came from a press release. The press release was about a study conducted by a professor at UF dealing with young adults and smoking.
Apparently, some health officials tried to help smokers quit by advertising smokeless tobacco more, and encouraging smokers to switch as they quit. This release surprised and intrigued me, mainly because I didn’t think it would work.
The study in the article showed that many high school seniors that smoked didn’t realize the full dangers of smoking and if they don’t realize the initial dangers, why would they switch to something else to reduce the risk?
Smoking is still a problem today. In fact, I feel that smoking has become more socially acceptable in recent years. I think there is less of a drive to encourage smokers to quit. I am not saying there aren’t groups out there, but they aren’t as apparent.
Basically a smoker has to make the personal choice to quit. If they don’t want to, then attempt to encourage them to do so will most likely be futile.
I don’t think endorsing smokeless tobacco is a good idea since it has just as many severe health risks as smoking does. It may seem like an obvious statement but it really is true.
What I found interesting about my health story is that even though I interviewed a range of people connecting to smoking, from a professor to a current smoker and someone who quit, they all agreed smokers will quit only when they want to.
My biggest complications when writing my story was mainly personal obstacles. I can be talkative and enjoy talking to new people, but I don’t always enjoy walking up to people I don’t know. This created a problem when I was trying to take pictures for my story.
It seems like everyday as I walk to class, I end up walking behind someone who is smoking. I am not fond of cigarette smoke, and I always fear the ash from someone’s cigarette is going to burn me. It seems when I try to avoid smokers, I can’t get away.
When I walked around campus looking for a picture for my health story, I had the opposite problem. All of a sudden it was as if all the smokers disappeared. I carried my camera with me when I went to class but for some reason had trouble catching someone smoking. When I did find someone smoking, I realized I had left my camera at home.
The other problem is that I am not too keen on asking someone if I can take their picture. When I realized I was running out of time to get a picture, I finally found courage.
It started to rain one day and it seemed that the rain made all the smokers stay inside, so I wasn’t having much luck getting a picture. As I walked by a woman and a man walking together, I noticed the man had a cigarette in his hand. After they passed me, I stopped for a second and then turned around and got his attention. He was very nice and agreed to let me take a picture as he walked and smoked.
Before writing my story, I was worried I would have trouble with sources. I was a little nervous about calling people and being perceived as an annoying journalism student.
However, I was really surprised that I had pretty good luck. All of my sources got back to me. The professional source even talked to me while sitting in the airport and another source talked to me while traveling in a car. I was kind of surprised at how cooperative all my sources were.
Since my topic was on smoking, I thought some people might be a little tentative about how much information they gave me. I realized that what we learned in class about interviewing is really true: if you make the source comfortable, you can get more of what you need.
Even though I was unsure about my sources contacting me, I was worried more about getting a picture. I thought that smokers may not want their picture taken if it was going to be published. They do smoke in public, but it is different being in a newspaper. My luck was better than I thought.
I am not good with walking up to strangers, but the first smoker I asked agreed to let me take their picture. Everything went a lot smoother than I thought.
I ended up with more information than I needed, and I was able to put myself in a smoker’s “shoes”. Writing this story helped me see things from their point of view a little more. It hasn’t really changed how I feel about smoking, but I am a little more open-minded.