Journalism for Justice


BY ANNA FERGUSONFebruary 12, 2014

Last week, I left my International Communications class finally having words to describe what I want to do when I graduate from Creighton University.

Advocacy Journalism.

From the moment I decided to double-major in journalism and theology as a freshman, I’ve had to explain that “interesting combination” and what I want to do with it.

Missionary journalism. Communications for a non-profit. Writing and social media for the Church. A combination of service, faith and writing. These are all rough descriptions of what my heart knew I wanted to do—of what it beat for—before I could put it into words.

Last week, many commemorated Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.’s death. At Creighton, what students probably know Arrupe for best is his poem, Fall in Love. I think I first heard it as a freshman and it continues to shape everything I do at Creighton.

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.

It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in Love,
stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

I have always been in love with writing. I remember being little and taking the bulletin my family took home after each Sunday Mass and adding pictures and little stories to it, rolling it up with a rubber band and giving to my parents as a “newspaper.”

What I didn’t know then, aspiring writer that I was, was just how much my faith would grow and come to influence that passion for writing.

I never foresaw, either, how that faith would grow into one that is passionate about doing justice, being in solidarity with those who suffer the most and working to change systems that oppress people.

And what’s amazing is that these two passions—for writing and for radically living my faith—coincide in a way only God could have conceived.

As a student coordinator in the Creighton Center for Service and Justice, I see every day how my journalism and theology majors relate to what I do. I work on the Communications Team, primarily using social media to promote service, justice and events throughout the office.

As the Co-Chair of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice Core Team, I get to live out my faith and what I learn about in my theology classes by planning a trip that seeks to inform students about social justice issues and give them the tools to advocate for reform.

I lead a weekly service site that is always the highlight of my week, I participate in legislative visits and I learn from mentors who have been in the business of doing justice longer than I have. I tell people all the time that if I could do this for the rest of my life, I would be completely happy and fulfilled.

So, God willing, that is what I’m going to do. Big paycheck or not, security and comfort or not, I want to go where the most vulnerable are and write about it. I want to live in solidarity with them and let their stories break my heart and the hearts of my readers. I want those who are alone to know that they are loved and I want to share my faith—formed so much by the Jesuit education and values I’ve received at Creighton—with those in need of hope. I want these passions to guide the service and justice work that I do.

This week, when I walked out of my International Communications class, I felt those strong passions for writing and justice stirring within me. I had just watched a documentary about a NY Times reporter who writes a column about humanitarian crises. The suffering I saw in this documentary and the reporter’s courage to go and write about the hardest of human situations, in the hopes of stirring people to respond, was incredibly moving.

I left with my heart broken but re-inspired to be a journalist for justice. And thanks to my professor, I finally have a name for that: Advocacy Journalist.

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