In 2008, I realized I needed a change. I had been working in the entertainment industry as a “floating” executive assistant at all of the major Hollywood studios. While I was meeting some really cool people (actors, producers, directors, etc.), it didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. I couldn’t seem to land a permanent job and as fun as it was to work in a different office each month, week or day, I knew I was capable of more.
I did some soul searching and thought back to when I was just a kid. I attended a public bilingual elementary school in Santa Monica, CA where I had become fluent in Spanish by the second or third grade. I was a confident, both socially and academically. During my 4th grade year, I earned the opportunity to be a field reporter on a special youth news program which was to be broadcasted on a local cable station. I had written a story about the Northridge 6.6 earthquake for a homework assignment and a week later was standing in front of a collapsed 10 freeway overpass not too far away from my school. I wore my favorite outfit and my school’s principal (who I adored and who adored me) drove me in her Volvo to the intersection where we met a professional news cameraman. She let me use her lipstick to get camera ready and he handed me a microphone. That was my first experience reporting the news. To say it was exciting would be an understatement. There was something about knowing information, sharing information, and feeling like people really wanted to hear what I had to say that felt so right. Plus, for whatever reason, I have always loved reading out loud. Maybe it’s because I was always good at it as a kid or because I enjoy the sound of my own voice (as they say) – yes, there is quite a bit of ego in broadcast news #letsbereal. I felt in some capacity, that being a journalist would allow me to change the world in an entertaining way. (Something I didn’t feel I could do as a temp entertainment executive assistant.)
Wanting that feeling back, in 2008/2009, I applied for a VJ position with CNN. They have an incredible training program at their Atlanta headquarters and I thought that could be my start. After applying several times and never hearing back, I enrolled in a broadcast news writing course at UCLA Extension. I thought having some specific training under my belt would help get my application noticed. I did well in the class, but after receiving no interest from CNN’s recruiters, I decided to enroll in graduate school. But, I really didn’t have much of a portfolio to showcase my writing and reporting abilities. So, I created NativeJournalist.com.
This was my goal for the blog:
To give a voice to communities whose stories are rarely covered by mainstream media. NativeJournalist.com consists of a mix of hard news, analysis, commentary and occasional videos about people and events that I feel are important and should be shared. (As well as a few random words of advice every now and then.)
Unfortunately, I haven’t done enough to make this blog succeed. It got me into the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, where I finally felt that I could call myself a real Journalist. It also helped the United Nations find me when they needed a moderator for a panel called, “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices” to commemorate the 2012 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The event was broadcasted live all over the world via UNTV, UNRadio, and UN.org. And, when you google search “native journalist,” you’ll find this blog on the first page which is kind of a big deal in an industry that depends on search engine optimization. So, why did I let it die? I’d like to say I don’t know, but that’s not true.
I think I’ve always believed everything I needed to know was outside of myself and to do or be something, I’d have to learn from someone else. It was only through the practice of meditation that I realized we have the answers within us. (I know this may sound hokey to some, but stay with me.) Instead of trying to do things my way, I was trying to conform and do what other people felt was best. I’ve always been a people pleaser. I never trusted my gut and I felt lost. So, the last thing I wanted to do was be a “voice for the voiceless” because I didn’t even trust my voice! The interesting thing, as I’ve come to find out, is a lot of people have confidence in my abilities. So, when I hoped the world would feel sorry for me when I had been kicked (figuratively), they were actually looking at me like, “WTF is wrong with you, woman?! Get up and keep it pushing!” I’ve decided that that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
I’m not sure if this will be the place that I do most of my blogging (as I have a few other blog ideas in the works), but I am going to get back to writing somewhere and I will be sure to let you (whomever is still subscribed) know.
about the author:
I currently reside in the Miami area, but have lived all over and have roots in Southern California (home) and New York City (home-away-from-home). For more information about me, please visit www.amystretten.com, linkedin.com/in/amystretten, and follow me on twitter @amystretten. (+See above.)