How to be a Journalist as an Opinionated Person

Because of my personal views and values, it was hard for me to look beyond what I had thought I already knew. After much deliberation with myself—and my editors—I decided that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and see what science had to say.

I’ll admit, I’m a super opinionated person. When I value something and someone else doesn’t, I quite frankly become defensive. It’s not that I’m unwilling to hear the thoughts or opinions of others, rather, my beliefs sometimes create a shadow over other’s beliefs.

When choosing the topics I wanted to cover for my stories in this issue of Echo, I knew I wanted to touch on topics that are important to me and shed awareness to others about their significance. I thought I knew everything there was to know about why fast fashion was bad for our bodies and the planet, and why we shouldn’t ever use conventional deodorant. When I began researching for my stories, I would always finish off my Google search with “is bad.”

Why fast fashion is bad.

Why cotton is bad.

Why conventional deodorant is bad.

Why aluminum in deodorant is bad.

As you can see, it’s pretty obvious where my views stood and I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise that this type of research got me nowhere fast. Instead of taking a step back and reading about all different viewpoints—even though they differed from my own—I only searched things that I believed in. If you’re thinking that this probably didn’t get me very far in my research, then you’re right. For the first half of the semester, I struggled to find a story angle that also reflected my personal beliefs. While I wanted my stories to reflect the thoughts I already had, I knew that wasn’t going to be possible because maybe, just maybe, my thoughts weren’t the only valid ones out there.

Along with online research, a big aspect of journalism (as I’m sure you already know) is sourcing. For my story on sustainable fashion, I reached out to a company that specialized in sustainable farming. While this source gave insight as to why manufacturing clothing in the most sustainable way possible was not only good for the environment but also good for the human body, my sourcing ignored the opinions of those whose reasoning was strictly science-based, rather than feelings-based. After doing research some odd number of years ago, I had already somewhat known that fast-fashion was bad for the environment and the body, but I wanted to prove my point even more in my article for Echo. While it is true that fast fashion negatively affects our environment, I also learned that the causes to the human body aren’t as major as I had believed. Because of my personal views and values, it was hard for me to look beyond what I had thought I already knew. After much deliberation with myself—and my editors—I decided that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and see what science had to say. While I’m still a strong believer in sustainable clothing, pushing myself out of my box of comfort allowed for me to write a piece that had just as much heart as it did facts.

Even more difficult to write than my article on sustainable fashion was my article about non-toxic deodorants. As a devoted vegan and someone who believes that choosing to use all-natural products trumps the usage of conventional products, doing research revolving drugstore deodorants was a struggle of mine. After researching online and analyzing official scientific documents, as well as, conducting interviews with several professional sources–including a doctor–I was shocked to learn that everything I thought I knew about conventional deodorant may not be 100 percent true.

While my thoughts and opinions about both sustainable fashion and non-toxic deodorant may be very one-sided, they are beliefs that I find value in. Throughout the process of writing these two articles for Echo, I learned that I also needed to value other opinions that weren’t my own. In order to be a good writer—and honestly, a good person—it’s important to consider the thoughts of others, especially when these people value their thoughts just as much as I do. My two stories have taught me that I am allowed to have my own thoughts and feelings, but outside people are also allowed to have theirs.