How ‘mistrust’ of the news motivates Hearst Journalism Fellow Tatiana Flowers

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)

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