As journalists, we are not artists. We are free throw shooters who can only get better the more we practice our throw. Everyone else, especially the ones we write stories about, are the artists.
This idea comes from the famous journalist, author and speaker Stephen Kurkjian. Kurkjian — pronounced “kirk-gin” — traveled to McMinnville, Oregon, this week to attend Linfield University’s Northwest Media Fest on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and Friday, Nov. 11.
While his analogy to a journalist’s career might sound a little harsh, it’s the furthest thing from an insult. The truth is that being a journalist is hard work. And as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Kurkjian would be best suited.
“[Journalism] learns to hold a gun – it’s a dangerous thing to sit down, write and then put it in the diary,” Kurkjian said. “Whether [people]only knew what we were doing in terms of fairness and thoroughness. Beyond your angst to put it on paper, how hard it is to get people to open up and talk.
Kurkjian first considered being a journalist at the suggestion of his mother. He took a journalism course or two at Boston University, but didn’t pay much attention to it. He remembers learning the basics of note-taking, and while he claims he still isn’t doing it very well, the classes seemed a little elementary.
Kurkjian became an English major, then thought he wanted to be a lawyer. That is until he became a journalist and realized how much fun he could have.
“The classic story I tell my homies is you invite me to your party because you want me to cover it. I drink your booze, I eat all your food, I flirt with your daughter and wife, and then I go home and criticize your party,” Kurkjian laughed. “That’s what we do!”
Kurkjian’s favorite play he wrote is a personal story that began with his father’s curiosity about the village he was forced to flee to in eastern Turkey when he was just three years old. year. The experience opened Kurkjian’s eyes to Armenian heritage, which taught him a lot about himself, his father and his extended family.
“I grew up American, but I’m going to come out Armenian,” Kurkjian said.
Kurkjian graced the Linfield campus to discuss his book “Master Thieves” which covers the greatest art theft in US history, and to discuss all things journalism with the students. The Media Fest continued with three more presentations from Kurkjian, as well as Therese Bottomly, editor and vice president of The Oregonian/OregonLive. Other events will follow this Friday.
For more information or to register for future events when visiting Linfield’s NW Media Fest: https://linfield.edu/nwmediafest/.