“Report! Report! Report! Just tell the truth.”

Cronkite School Writer-in-Residence Terry Greene Sterling shared her stories on immigration issues with our SUSI scholars on Saturday morning (Phoenix time) June 26.

Terry is a passionate writer. From her stories, we can feel how much she loves her job. Her sharing indeed expanded my imagination and deepened my understanding about both the tears and bitterness, as well as encouraging and shining moments that happen on or in relation to the border. It was wonderful to meet such a professional writer, who has kept writing for so many years and is willing to offer her experiences to journalism students at the Cronkite School since 2008. More importantly, I feel impressed that long-form story writing can still find its place in today’s social media era, in which information is mostly overwhelming and audiences are often lacking in patience.

author and journalist Terry Greene Sterling met with the scholars on saturday to talk about the southern arizona borderlands and reporting on immigration

Media content, no matter whether news reports, features, or fiction, is created by human writers. There is always space for an author to decide which angle to take and how to construct a narrative using different linguistic means.  One take-away from Terry was her rule, “Report! Report! Report! Just tell the truth” when answering our Vietnamese scholar Alex Vu’s question on her approach to writing. Our group discussion concluded that it is important to balance creating emotion (for example, empathetic feeling) through storytelling and maintaining credibility whenever we write.

I also learned that (relatively) long-term observation and study, an in-depth perspective to look at the contexts causing migration, as well as persistence to go against stereotypes of vulnerable groups are important keys to combat the quick-and-dirty style of news reporting, which is lazy journalism.