Year in J-School (Part 5)–MTA, Fail

MTA is not your friend.

Oh J-School…already you are a fickle mistress.

I have already learned not to trust the MTA. All of the subway stops are closed in my neighborhood, making it next to impossible to get to AND last night when I left school after 14 hours of learning, none of the uptown trains were running. I walked. From 116th to 145th and then six blocks east (mostly all up hill)…and then I realized that my keys were in my room and I had to wake my roommate up to get in (at 2 a.m.). Damn you, MTA. Damn you.

Monday, after a morning meeting with my RW1 class we were sent up to our beats to get the lay of the land. EPIC. FAILURE. All of the subway stops in my neighborhood (Soundview, Bronx) are closed for maintenance. Despite having three different maps, I got totally lost (I’m not even sure if I actually made it to my ‘hood) and people were all around kind of intimidating. All of the signs are in Spanish and the only things I really saw were housing projects, laundromats and $0.99 stores.

This is going to be more of a challenge than I thought. There goes what little hubris I had.

I returned home Monday night feeling dejected and rejected, despite an email from my teacher that the issues I encountered will all make for good stories. If I can’t get to Soundview easily how are the residents getting around? There was also the issue that every person I spoke to in community centers didn’t live in the area…which was weird to me. So I suppose I did leave with two story ideas.

Yesterday we spent all day inside a classroom learning how to use Final Cut Pro to edit audio and doing various exercises. It was relaxed and very interesting. I’ve never done anything like it before. This morning I did some more Internet research on my beat and then I had an afternoon class where we learned how to use the audio recorders and interview people for radio…getting actualities and ambient sound…then we were sent out to find a person…a stranger…and have them tell us a story. I got shot down by the first five people I asked and one book vendor even yelled at me and told me he hated Columbia Journalism students because they’ve been rude to him. I was so tired and so stressed out that (in true Caitlin fashion) I started crying and called my mommy…who instantly calmed me down.

Apparently crying worked because a woman came up and started talking to me and I got an interview out of sheer luck. Not my finest hour and not the best way to go about getting an interview but once I was calm and we really started talking she let me record a story about what it was like when she first moved to New York City from Chicago.

It’s not exactly groundbreaking journalism and I’m worried that it’s going to be the worst one in my class, but I’m trying to reassure myself that it will be fine for its purpose…which is that we’re learning how to put things together…not win a Pulitzer. Tomorrow we’re editing our audio into a two minute profile of the person which we will play for the class and critique each other.

Also, tonight we had a lecture from David Isay, founder of Story Corps. It was really moving and reminded me why I want to be a journalist. I want to tell people’s stories…because everyone has one.

The J-School just put up our class picture. Can you find me?

Basically, I’ve been really, really, really stressed but I really can’t complain because I love everything I’m doing. I love learning audio and Final Cut Pro. I love being out in the city talking to people even if they brush me off. I’m having fun even if it makes me tired and cranky and want my mommy. It’s an adjustment process.

Right now, it’s bed time, because I can’t even keep my eyes open to type this…or watch the “Daria” DVD I got off Netflix.


One comment

  1. Mommy · August 19, 2010

    Glad you always need your mommy and I am so proud of you. I know you can do this! Have fun with it and think outside the box. There are plenty of nice people out there, just open yourself up. Remember your keys, walking is good for you and get some sleep! No Netflix movies! There is no time, sleep is best.

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