When I came into this program, I already had a rudimentary knowledge of journalism and how to put together a story. However, I learned early on that one summer internship with journalism wouldn’t cut it — I had to step up.
Real Chi Youth has pushed me to grow and change as both a person and a journalist. I’ve learned how to conduct myself in a professional journalistic environment, and how to truly commit to a project. The lessons have helped me not only as a journalist, but as a person. Working in journalism has taught me skills on project commitment, research, and communication.
RCY hasn’t just been rainbows and butterflies. Learning new technology was challenging, as well as meeting and interacting with a group of new people. I also had to deal with the loss of my best friend and semi-role-model, Evie Lacroix, as she left the program and went to college. With the skills learned from RCY, I know that despite her absence I can go on to continue my work with journalism and media making.
When doing a story with José Olivarez, I was faced with the knowledge that the media treats Chicago the same way it would a foreign country – it’s alienating. I would like to continue work on changing the Chicago stereotype that mainstream media perpetuates. This city is not “Chiraq,” nor is it “The Black City” or “The murder capital of the country.” Chicago is a city unlike any other American city, unique in its honesty and its community. I would like to continue to tell that story – one of growth and struggle in the city of Chicago.
To future reporters working for Real Chi Youth: Keep going. Keep changing the stereotype. Keep telling stories that will elevate communities and shine spotlights on problems. Your work is important.
To journalists covering Chicago: We are not your war zone, we are not your overly-dramatized representation of violence. Chicago is a community. Tell that story instead.
By Grace Barry