In March, my second month of the Fellowship, I got a really exciting opportunity, to report for the Metro section of the Globe. Even though I technically am part of the editorial team, one of the many perks of the Fellowship is that you get to listen in on the newsroom 9:15am calls. This means many things: 1. You get to be part of the newsroom and understand how the various desks communicate and organize themselves, 2. You develop a news sense about what deserves front page, And 3. If you have story ideas you have kind and eager editors to pitch them to.
March was deeply focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and in the early weeks of the invasion there was a lot of talk about nuclear war. Like most journalists from my generation, I spend/waste a lot of my time on social media and going through Reddit and TikTok and Twitter I realised that older people were genuinely worried about a nuclear war, while the younger generation had some interesting ideas about what nuclear threats. I wanted to explore this further so I pitched the idea to a Metro editor who very kindly gave me the go ahead.
The next thing I knew I was at an elderly home in Somerville, Massachusetts talking to 103-year-old Oscar Greene who had served in the second world war. I spent many hours talking to people who remembered the 1950s-1980s vividly, to learn more about their anxieties then and now. It was fascinating. Then I did the same with younger people.
A co-reporter on the story, who was wonderful and generous with advice, spoke to psychologists for the story and in a few days our story was published on the front page of the Sunday paper. I hear that Gen X journalists are not that excited by making it to A1, but as a millennial who will always love broadsheet, it was really exciting to be on the front page.
Apart from this in March, I also wrote opinion pieces about watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine on TikTok and honestly, it was a harrowing experience and I won’t get into the details. All I will repeat is what Susan Sontag said about photography and videos and war: “We don’t get it. We truly can’t imagine what it was like. We can’t imagine how dreadful, how terrifying war is — and how normal it becomes. Can’t understand, can’t imagine.”
I rounded off the month with what I thought was a “lighter” story – about the Senate passing a bill to make daylight saving time permanent. In fact, I was a bit worried that this is not my usual human rights reporting, but as it turns out, it very much is a human rights issue! I really enjoyed talking to all the people advocating for standard time, I learnt things about the human anatomy and its relationship with time that I want to forget. For instance, I never realised the impact taking a long-haul flight and ending up in a different time zone has on your body!
It was also really interesting to learn about how the Senate operates – it turns out too many Americans also didn’t know that bills can be passed in the Senate without all the Senators being present and the only reason that doesn’t happen much more often is because of mutual understanding between senators.
I am not the first Neuffer Fellow to feel this way, I am sure, but time is passing very fast and there is so much more that I want to write! Let’s see what stories I manage to do in April!