Everyone has a story; I want to hear it

Molly House, Journal Content Manager

Wide-eyed and full of coffee, I was rapt with attention. I was at the National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco, taking an advanced storytelling class. Legal pad and pen in hand, I was ready to learn. The teacher, a seasoned journalism instructor, stood at the front of the room and cleared his throat. 

“What I am about to tell you is the key to good journalism,” he said. 

We leaned forward in our chairs, and you could’ve heard a pin drop. 

“Everybody has a story; you just have to find it.” 

You could hear everyone in the room exhale as we thought to ourselves, “Is it really that easy?” Does everyone really have a story? 

For part of the class, we were sent out and told to come back with a story. I had the whole city to work with! I started talking to a woman waiting for a cab, but when her cab left, so did her story. I walked up to a security guard in the hotel, not quite knowing what to expect. I ended up talking with the woman for over an hour, learning more than I could have ever fathomed. 

Outside of her regular job working security, the guard mentored young women in need of guidance. She got pregnant in high school, and while she loved her daughter more than anything, she hoped that she could guide other girls to reach their fullest potential. She felt one of her greatest achievements in life (besides raising her daughter) was helping a young woman graduate high school and get accepted into college. 

Since then, I have realized that everyone truly does have a story. It’s the job of a student journalist to tell the stories of their school, to give a voice to students who otherwise might not get heard. 

Walk up to a stranger. Ask how they are doing. Ask them questions? You’d be surprised by what you might find out. 

Being a journalist, I get to go up to people and just talk. When I walk into an interview, I never know what I will end up learning. Most of the questions I prepare lay forgotten, the conversation often veering in a more interesting direction. Some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had have been interviews. 

I’ve had the amazing opportunity to attend various journalism conventions and take classes taught by journalists. They would all say, ‘Everybody has a story, you just have to find it.’ I listened. Now, it all makes sense, but sitting in those classes, I didn’t realize the impact those words would have on my life.