I started a journalism club at my school. As a journalist, I thought I knew what I was getting into. But I had to teach the damn thing mostly in another language. In Russian, as a matter of fact. Something I'd overlooked. And it wasn't easy.
Eight students showed up to the first meeting. When discussing investigative journalism I told them anything that doesn’t piss someone off isn’t worth writing. Then I tried saying – in Russian – “You’ve got to light a fire under their ass.” Unfortunately, the meaning of that idiom was lost in translation.
When we began chatting about newsroom job descriptions everyone wanted to be a photographer. I didn’t get it. One of the best parts of being a journalist is receiving hate mail. How many photographers do you know receive hate mail? One girl told me she wanted to write about celebrities. I held my tongue.
We concluded with a discussion about freedom of speech and the importance of a free press. I asked, "Is it important to have a free press?"
The students responded, “Yes.”
I pressed further. ”Does Ukraine have a free press?” Blank stares.
One student said, “Yes, but sometimes they kill journalists here.”
“True!” I said. “But couldn’t that mean they were on to something?”
The student shook his head. “I don’t want to die,” he said.
“That’s fine," I said. "You’ll be our page designer.”
I think it went well.