Last night

Despite the title of this post, I’m far from done.

The last few days have been so fast and full that I haven’t had any time to right anything down, but believe me, I will.

There are so many ideas on this trip that require a lot of introspection, and right now my batteries are too low to think them through completely and give them justice. I need more than three hours of sleep to do that.

But believe me, I will, and I’ll post them here because I think best when I’m writing.

A few quick reflections, though:

Being with other college journalists has reinforced how much this field means to me.

We’re all working towards the same thing, and everyone brings something to the table. For instance, we talked about the beauty of fonts and serifs on a bus ride to Tel Aviv. Then, when the Yale reporter read my blog, he complemented my lede, but pointed out a reporting flaw in a very matter-of-fact way. It didn’t hurt my feelings. He just cared enough about the written word and good writing to never pull any punches. It’s what every editor and every reporter should be doing all the time.

Everyone talks about crime reporting, bad staff members, the value of objectivity, the art of headlines and the merits of going to graduate school without any of the tension that comes with being on the same newspaper staff. East coast, west coast and the Midwest– it doesn’t matter, we all are facing similar issues. Just meeting everyone has made this trip worthwhile, but there have been so many other incredible things I will never forget.

Being on this trip has put me in fascinating places and situations in such a short period of time with such complex ideas that I have trouble processing.

Today I went to Sderot, a town in southern Israel which was bombed last night at approximately 7 p.m. and is constantly living under the threat of rockets from the Gaza Strip. We visited a building designed so that children could play in it without having to worry about the threat of an attack. Half of the budget for the building was to reinforce the ceilings and walls.

The citizens of Sderot have only 15 seconds to find cover when the alarm goes off in the city telling them a rocket has been launched. It is a tragedy children need to grow up worrying about rockets. I commend the adults who took enough care to make sure those kids have some semblance of normalcy in their lives.

However our group was shown a propaganda video which really left a bad taste in my mouth. It flashed pictures of the village after an attack in such rapid succession that it was hard to tell what exactly I was seeing. The sky footage during on the bombings was doctored so a red film creeped across the sky until it was covered. I was already sympathetic to their cause and their town, but in that film I felt like my emotions were being manipulated. One editor described it as good public relations.

That is not to say their plight isn’t real and tragic. It is. The security director of the play building says even though many rockets often do not leave any physical casualties, they leave traumatic mental scars in the adults and children who constantly live under the threat of rocket fire. They do retailiate, but they say they do not target civilians like the attacks against them from Hamas do.

It’s hard to question security figures when they show you the rockets that have been fired at them and the place they need to keep their children safe. The themes of protection and security are important to think about in reporting, especially as they apply to civilians and children.

Military messages are hard to decipher and it is hard for me to decide where I stand. It tugs at the eternal question, what is more important, security or freedom? Do I think it is more important that military messages are kept tightly guarded to protect people or do I think information should flow freely to the press and the public to promote optimum transparency? I think there’s a middle ground.

I’m heading out to Tel Aviv right now. I’m leaving the country tomorrow. I’m going to keep writing when I get home. Thanks for reading.

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