Personal Essay: Journalism is Magic


Asher Lauderdale, Reporter

I believe magic is real. And to me, journalism is magic.

I don’t know about everyone who’s reading this, but magic is real in a certain manner. It just depends on your definition of magic and the qualifications needed, but then if you based everything off that model, everything can be justified. Now, it might take a paragraph or two for you to understand why I believe in magic, but it’s worth the wait. Who doesn’t like added tension?

UNT’s Mayborn multimedia workshop has been an amazing opportunity where I have gotten to meet incredible people that I would never have had the opportunity to meet, and learn things that you only learn by experiencing it—something that can’t necessarily be put into words but what I understand all writers understand.

I talked about this subject with Jim Dale after the interview I had originally used to create this story. He asked me about my own personal experiences and why I wanted to write. I tried (and failed) to explain to him the passion and the need I feel for storytelling. As I tripped over my words, he gave me this look of sympathy (maybe?) and simply told me, “I understand what you’re saying.”

When I looked at him after he said that, I knew he did. Everyone at this conference understood what I was trying to say. All of us have a need to tell stories. All of us have a passion for writing and using the magic of words and language. Because it’s magic, isn’t it? Think about it: magicians use a connection of syllabus and words to make something happen. Journalists use a connection of words to construct a story. To make a difference. Even if it impacts in the smallest ways, to the biggest ways. Journalists can someone smile through the connection of a story. They can change the way pharmacies prescribe medicine (credit to Laura Beil). Journalists are true magicians.

Having the realization that magic is real in this conversation with Jim, I wondered why it was at this camp that I felt a drive and joy in the bottom of my feet—a wonderful, familiar feeling—like I had completed a race. For that, I turned to Leah Waters, the director of the workshop. As we talked, I asked her about the effects of the workshop in the conference and she told me “You can’t walk away from the environment with not wanting to story tell.”

She was right. All I’ve wanted to do at this camp is write, and take pictures, and interview, and get to know everyone. I wanted to meet everyone and understand that they feel the same thing I do.

And now that it is almost 12:30 a.m., I have even less of an idea on how to end it so I’ll resort to my instincts, my drive to write, and let my mind move my fingers to write what I hope to express my thoughts and emotions.

I knew, finally, that magic was real in just a few hours and I better understood why I so badly wanted to write, and why I run a website on controversial and uncomfortable topics, why I’m so passionate about writing. Why…just about everything. And now, I want to tell the stories of others and make an impact on the world with my writing.