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The benefits of wandering … especially when you’re at The Times

June 23, 2010

At the LA Times, the halls are decorated with significant front pages the paper has published in the past. The pages are framed, and certain articles of importance stand out. Brilliant pictures line the pages that catch your eye, and headlines grab at you from across the room and beckon you to read the fine print.

Today, I went to find Randy Hagihara, the director of internships at The Times, to ask him a question about paychecks and whatnot. His office is on the other side of the building — and when I got to his office, I found he wasn’t there. So, I waited outside his office for a bit, and, inevitably, I noticed one of the papers. On the front page was a picture of a husband and his wife embracing in front of the ocean. I read the caption, and it said, “A husband and wife standing in front of an ocean, which, moments earlier, drowned their son.”

I was startled. I read the article beneath it. I went on to the next front page. It was from 1964 — there were pictures and articles written about the Watts riots. The imagery in the writing and the actual images in the photo coverage were haunting, yet perfect.

In another hall were pictures of previous Pulitzer Prize winners at The Times and their work. I read Vietnam articles that won the Pulitzer, I read editorials, feature stories, investigative reports, cartoons and beat reports, and before I knew it, an hour and a half had passed. I had forgotten about Randy. I had forgotten how I had gotten to the spot in which I was standing. I forgot what day it was. There was really only one thing I knew for sure: why I was there.

At that exact moment, when I was standing in front of a picture of William Tuohy — a man who spent years of his life in Vietnam reporting under fire and danger all to find and deliver the news —  I knew why I was where I was. It was so clear to me why I was standing in a newsroom. I knew why I was wearing a name tag that says, “Emilia Barrosse Los Angeles Times — Intern.” I knew why my heart was beating so fast, and I knew why I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the print. I knew that while I was in that hall, looking at these heroes — these images of journalistic mastery — I knew why the rest of the world around me disappeared, and I was alone with Tuohy; with Micheal Parks; with Clarence Williams; with David Shaw.

Everything was so clear! So … perfect.

I forgot what time it was. I didn’t care. I forgot how long I had been staring at the wrinkles in William Tuohy’s face, the experience in his eyes and the contours of his hands. I just kept thinking — “Look at those hands. Those hands wrote words that changed the world. And look at his eyes — his eyes saw things most eyes are too afraid to see. His eyes stared into the face of death and pain and agony and discomfort and asked that face, ‘Can I quote you on that?'”

And I read his article. I read it over and over and over again. And I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry for so many reasons: his eloquence, his accuracy, his courage, his depth, his clarity, his strength.

But I mostly wanted to cry because it wasn’t just Tuohy. I was surrounded by magnificence — magnificence that was displayed in the form of print. Articles surrounded me, and these articles were the summation of their respective journalists’ brilliance, determination, courage and love.

At that moment, I knew — I know — that I would — will — do anything, anything, to have my name up there with their’s. I just have to prove to myself — and to them — that I’m worth it.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 24, 2010 12:29 am

    Work hard, ask the tough questions, challenge yourself and others, follow directions but think creatively — and you will succeed. Go, Emilia, go!

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