Will Write for Food
Today I’m leaving for my trip for, what will be, one of the the craziest journalistic experiences I’ll undergo. This past summer I was chosen as one of the writers for this year’s Will Write for Food staff. What the hell is that exactly? It’s a workshop organized by Michael Koretzky, one of the many directors for the Society of Professional Journalists and adviser for the University Press at Florida Atlantic University. He’s also an editor and content director for Debt.com. Students from all over the nation were hand-picked by last year’s staff to put together a 24-page newspaper, The Homeless Voice, within 36 hours. The paper just so happens to be the second-largest homeless newspaper in the nation. This newspaper is run entirely by the homeless and all of my time will be working with them at a local homeless shelter. I don’t get any type of college credit, no awards, no money, no job offers. This 3-day extravaganza is purely for the experience.
Joining me will be 21 other students hailing from Arizona, Indiana, Alaska,New Hampshire, Washington and Florida. Some are writers, some are photographers, some are layout designers, but I’m guessing all of us will be doing a lot more than what we’re assigned to do. We’ll be supervised by a few members from last year’s staff and other Will Write for Food faithfuls, but for the most part, from what I gathered in the past emails from Michael, the major decision making will be made from the new staff members. We’re all bringing various sets of skills to the table and then coming together to create a mobile, cross-functional (and maybe dysfunctional) news team. This past spring I finished my first year as a journalism student and I’m ready to get my hands dirty in some journalism work that’s outside of school.
Now working with the homeless may sound daunting to some. Especially after hearing that the editor of the newspaper had a bad Oxycodone habit and the fact that one of the previous writers was sexually assaulted (kind of) and another almost stepping on human feces while walking through the halls, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. But that’s the point of doing this. You’re miles away from home, friends and family, and working in a not-so-traditional environment with a bunch of strangers, hoping that everything works out. I know I’m going to meet a lot of interesting people and most importantly learn from them.
I see this as a real-world test and may be it’ll guide to the type of journalism I want to be involved in. This is going to help me break out of my comfort zone, especially when it comes to interviewing people that I wouldn’t normally talk to because of my own ignorance and prejudice. I’ll try my best to document each day I’m there on twitter or on this blog.