The most good is done in the in smallest places

Olivia Fellows, Associate Print Editor

Before attending college or any institution involved with higher education, I’ll be open about the fact that I had pretty limited education about my options – and this is in part due to my own young negligence for information, granted.

I went in relatively blind, deciding my major in multimedia journalism without knowing anything about the actual program or its professors. I ended up getting lucky in choosing (in my current, biased opinion) one of the best journalism programs in the state, if not the nation. Because of this, I found myself challenging and engaging in my chosen field in a way that I hadn’t before in terms of challenging the very ideas and ideologies that helped create the very curriculum I was learning from.

This way of learning has allowed me to uncover where and how I could make the most difference in the journalism that I wanted to do.

Courtesy / Olivia Fellows

As a budding journalist, I am often pushed to reach higher and aim for the largest and most well-known news organizations like the New York Times, the Washington Post or CNN that focus on global and national news. However, throughout my education and as I engaged in internships, I quickly learned that where my passion lied was local journalism.

There are so many issues that we face today that begin at the small community level. During my internship junior year with a local paper out of my home town, I got to know just how influential small-town journalism can be, and I realized that so many issues can be addressed at an interpersonal community level if enough people pay attention.

I wanted to find a place where I could continue my love of sharing personal and community stories, talk to unique people making a difference. Journalism can be many things – joyful, beautiful, ugly, sad, scary, enraging. The work done in newsrooms holds power, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. The Grand Valley Lanthorn has given me such an enriching experience, and through my work, I’ve engaged with amazing individuals, but the ones I will miss the most are my colleagues.

Being a part of a news team that works synchronously to create an award-winning publication has been beyond my wildest dreams, and winning my first journalistic award with The Lanthorn was an incredible gift. In this last column, I want to thank my coworkers and writers for constantly raising the bar, and pushing me to be the best writer and editor I could be throughout my time at GVSU and the Lanthorn. Every person I’ve worked with, interviewed, and engaged with through my work has inspired me in so many ways I never thought possible.

I never thought I would ever feel ready to take on the real world, but the people in my life, my work, and my education changed that mindset with such ease. From professors who enriched my education to colleagues and peers who encouraged my creativity and initiative.

All of these experiences helped me understand why I love journalism, hearing and sharing people’s stories, and why so much positive change and power can come from small communities. I plan to be a part of the journalism that inspires people to make change in their own community, address national issues like police brutality, mass shootings and political distress on a local level. The list of issues to tackle is endless, but taking them on is how we move forward with inclusivity and understanding.

I’ve seen it done, and I know that if more people are willing to look at the opportunities in small places, those places are where some of the greatest good can be done. Not just in the journalism world, but in every career you could think of.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo once said; “journalism is an act of faith in the future.” Moving forward, this is what I will have faith in as I begin work after graduation. I’d like my path to focus on informing communities so that they can engage and make positive changes for the future.

I have faith in the small towns of the world, the locals who act and create initiatives to solve problems. It’s easy to leave home and never want to come back, but it’s harder to look at where you came from and see the problems that need solving and to want to be a part of the solutions. In many ways, the smallest places need the biggest minds to help. In my work, I will use my voice as a journalist to raise up the voices of others, to be a leader in listening, and to share stories worth telling.

I am choosing to be a part of the solutions, and I have faith in our future.