F-bombs and Community with Jeff Jarvis at the CUNY J School

Last year when I watched an interview with Professor & Director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism; Jeff Jarvis & astrophysicist & director of the Hayden Planetarium; Neil deGrasse Tyson on a rainy Sunday afternoon in my bed — I had made up my mind. I want to attend the Social Journalism program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

With five minutes on the deadline clock left to submit my application, I press send and here I am a few months later, typing my first ‘Medium’ post as the first assignment for the class of 2017.

As I walk in to the first class of the year, late as usual, I see Mr. Jarvis there as his own self with my classmates/colleagues smirking at my punctuality. I take one of the seats away from the tables in the back as the only ones available, I was quick to get off of WhatsApp, Facebook, emails and Twitter feeds on my laptop and engage in the conversation that the class was having.

Shared via Maria Fraschilla, Original photo by Jennifer Groff
You can be a part of a community you never met — Jeff Jarvis

The above quote genuinely hit me and is super highlighted in my notes. Jarvis explained to us that the true work of journalists is to serve the community rather than to just report about it. Our program being focused on a community that we engage in, report about and essentially be a part of, at the end if we cannot serve them, we have failed to do our job. That is a very important component that I took home post the class and I believe a lot of my friends in class will agree with me.

We all have our specific communities or an idea of them as we embark on this journalistic journey and our first class with Jarvis helped us to shape them. His direct approach on making sure that we can define and provide ‘evidence’ of our community and how we can be of service to them will be crucial to the entire class both in our individual and collective success.

Post a few more f-bombs, constantly over-speaking his own time limit with no breaks, stories of his family and mentions of “don’t tweet that” the class comes to an end. The most important lessons learnt were definitely involving with our community. As journalists, we should observe, listen and focus on the needs of our community, instead of presuming that we know their needs. Instead of creating a community with our own mind-space or that might be relevant to us, we should provide evidence for a self-defined community. We should not write but convene stories and most important of all —

its not about the story; its about the service — Jarvis