a new hero

22Apr09

I have finally found a contemporary journalist to adore. Everyone needs their heroes, their role models. I have never really had a journalist role model that was alive. I’m in love with Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens, but journalism has changed a lot since he was around. My lack of a journalism hero is mostly my fault because I have been lazy in following notable journalists, especially contemporary ones. I am ashamed to say I am unfamiliar with almost everyone mentioned in my classes. It’s quite sad, but that’s one of the reasons why I’m at the University of Missouri as a graduate student, to learn these things. After not finishing too many books in Literature of Journalism this semester, I have finally found a journalist I can relate to.

Listening to a speech by Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief (which was the basis for the movie Adaptation), I became completely smitten (in a platonic role model kind of way). She loves her dog like I love my dog. She has a family and a stellar career like I want to have a family and a stellar career. She struggles with the same things I struggle with as a reporter, getting out there when a phone call will get the job done adequately. I hate doing the interview in person when I could make a phone call, but I never regret it when I force myself to it. Talking to strangers terrifies me, but its so rewarding when I get up the nerve. If Susan Orlean can make it that far with those issues then maybe there is hope for me too.

So far, I love The Orchid Thief. Her writing is such a relief from the other books I have been reading. She allows herself to be in the story not so she can take over the story but so you can be in the story with her. Looking at her other work, she writes the kind of stories I want to write, profiles of people and places, the weird stories that may seem a little self-indulgent to some but are always entertaining to read. I can’t wait until summer so I can dive into more of her work.

P.S. If you read this and go watch Adaptation without reading the book first, according to interviews I’ve listened to and read, the sex and drugs regarding Susan Orlean are not true and just fabrication of Hollywood.

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