How Questioning My Role in Journalism Led Me to Bravery Tapes
Years after becoming a reporter, I began to question my role in the profession called journalism. Why was I doing it? Was it still for the greater purpose of pursuing the truth and informing the public, or was it now about something else? One thing was for sure: I didn’t feel as much passion as I once had for the craft.
So I asked myself what I most loved about it. All of the stories I had done on oil ministers and presidents, on elections and crime, on sports and entertainment; I enjoyed them very much, but they weren’t what I was most passionate about. Instead, a story I had done on the Venezuelan youth orchestra came to mind. I recalled teenagers who had drawn on classical music to escape lives of drugs and violence. Then I thought of a young woman I met in a poor Colombian village who was determined to become a successful doctor instead of succumbing to the guerilla violence all around her.
As more and more stories like this came to mind, I realized what they had in common: they were all stories about courageous people. I got goose bumps when I thought of those who had faced adversity and done something extraordinary. I was inspired; and I knew if I was, others must have been too. So what if I could use journalism as a way to inspire? What if it could do more than informing, praising or criticizing?
So I decided I would purposefully seek these stories out and help make bravery its own genre. I called it Bravery Tapes. I wanted to find the highest forms of bravery. My new space wouldn’t be for the run-of-the-mill animal rescue story that a local TV station might run to fill its quota of uplifting news. Nor would it be for people who acted through anger. I wanted to find people who were noble.
I started with Mexico. It seemed an ideal place because I had covered the country and knew there were many stories of courage related to the drug violence. I had also written a song about children who faced the violence, so it made sense to go find material in this vein. I interviewed a teenager who was a former Zeta, a powerful drug cartel, and another who denounced his brother’s kidnappers in public, a dangerous move in Mexico. And then I spent time with a group of school children who experienced a drug-related shootout with automatic weapons outside their classroom window. All of this became "Guns Down", the first Bravery Tape.'>