As a journalist, some stories will be more challenging than others, but that never stops Tatiana Flowers, a young reporter and Hearst Journalism Fellow at The Hour in Norwalk.
Flowers found her passion for journalism during college despite her initial desire to become a veterinarian. Writing came naturally, and eventually, she perfected her multimedia skills, including in video journalism.
A typical day for Flowers includes writing two to three stories on education, health and crime for The Hour. During her time in Norwalk, she has also gotten the chance to highlight several non-profit organizations, including Keystone House. The nonprofit provides residential and psychological services to adults with mental illnesses.
Mental illness was always a beat she wanted to cover despite the obstacles one can encounter when gaining access to patients, Flowers said. She said she was thankful when Keystone House residents and staff members were eager to talk about mental illnesses and how they can affect a person and those around them. Flowers said this was her favorite story at The Hour so far, because it shows that there is still trust in journalists.
Flowers’ previous journalism experience also includes international reporting. During her study abroad experience at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, she worked for Morocco World News and did an exploratory audio story on child marriage, among other vox pop pieces.
When she first approached the story, she recalls questioning how anyone could marry off their child. But after interviewing two child brides, she had some revelations on the topic.
“I’m not saying that it’s an acceptable thing, but there are reasons why child marriages happen and I learned all those circumstances and contributing factors through reporting on it,” Flowers said. “I really transformed as a human being while covering that story and I saw things that I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t studying in that country.”
As a foreigner in Morocco, Flowers encountered several barriers when reporting. She recalls having trouble finding sources because people questioned why she wanted to cover such a taboo topic. Yet, she pushed through and was able to find sources who were willing to talk about their personal experiences.
In addition, she was detained during her time in Morocco because she failed to obtain authorization from the government to use professional journalism equipment. Although she applied for the authorization numerous times, the government refused to grant it if they didn’t like the story the particular journalist was covering, explained Flowers.
She mentions that it was very hard to do journalism in Morocco, especially covering topics that were perceived as negative or taboo. However, she’s grateful for the experience because she claims it gave her a more humanitarian outlook on life.
Now more than ever, Flowers notices mistrust in the media, but she uses it as motivation to make her work as accurate and fair as possible. She said she follows up with sources and confirms their quotes before publication to avoid any errors.
Flowers said that the job sometimes comes with long hours and the occasional negative comments.
“If you really love it, do it for the right reasons and treat everyone with respect then you will figure it out,” Flowers said.
She encourages other emerging journalists to join as many journalistic organizations as they can afford and to network as much as possible.
Follow Tatiana Flowers on Twitter: @TATIANADFLOWERS
Top photo: Tatiana Flowers, Hearst Connecticut Media Fellow assigned to the Norwalk Hour. (Photo courtesy of Tatiana Flowers)