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Journalism’s richest experiences are created by the people

By Jessica Lum

June 7, 2009 9:01 p.m.

When I was a kid, I was committed to reading the most important part of the newspaper every single day: the comics.

I breakfasted with the brainchildren of Bill Watterson, Scott Adams, Garry Trudeau and Aaron McGruder, marveling at the power of their illustrations and dialogues.

In a few panels, these comic masterminds could gently make us realize certain truths about ourselves through discussions about pop culture, society, politics and humanity.

My faithfulness to the daily comics wavered sometime in high school.

I picked up the newspaper again my first quarter at UCLA, but this time to work for it.

Once again, I found myself in the folds of a newspaper, pondering words and pictures.

Instead of panels, I was working with words, inches and photo dimensions. The characters featured in my stories were real people, sometimes comic and witty, like Craig X. Rubin, mayoral candidate and founder of a religious cannabis ministry. Others were larger than life, like male adult film star Evan Stone. Some were masters of their trade, like author Paul Auster. And sometimes they were people much like myself, playing Guitar Hero for the sheer fun of it.

The best perk as a journalist is being able to meet so many different people and hearing their stories firsthand.

Journalism isn’t just words, information and deadlines. Journalism captures the stories of normal and extraordinary people who create pop culture, who impact society, who are active in politics and overall, who are a piece of the human story.

Working for the Daily Bruin allowed me to meet these people, from elated football players at our 13-9 win over USC in 2006 to a young man trying to earn a living as a club promoter in a Bangkok red-light district.

During my time at the Daily Bruin, I’ve also realized that the best part of working for the Daily Bruin is working alongside the people striving, like myself, to tell these stories through words, pictures, graphics and videos.

I remember rock-jumping in Malibu with Chris Shane and last year’s photo editors and eating, courtesy of Kimberly’s endless meal swipes and charming company in the dining halls.

Robert Faturechi and I started working together on a story about frozen yogurt in Westwood and one year later, we found ourselves in Thailand, working on a story about HIV.

I remember getting discounted sushi and wandering around though Westwood during “Day in the Life” with John G., and listening to R. Kelly with Jake and Maya at retreat.

I played countless rounds of beer pong with Dave Woods at Lisa Cates’ and one round of office pong with Jack.

I miss crossing off the list in the photo cubicle with Andrew, Elina and Rachael, talking about photo gadgets with Mike Chen, burning budget notes at photo bonfire and watching the interns improve and begin to love photojournalism.

I remember getting sentimental on the field at the Rose Bowl with Derek and Russell, when we realized it was our last time there as Daily Bruin photographers.

The week I found out about my cancer, Derek sat patiently with me in the waiting room before my first fateful CT scan.

I will always remember that tough day when I told my staff about my cancer and had to leave my job as photo editor to focus on medical treatment. So many people came forward to support me.

Roscoe, Christie, Kimberly and Sue helped me pack up to go home. Anthony, Amber and Doria flew me down for winter retreat. Edward and Arvli teamed up with Bill and Maureen from UCLA Recreation to organize a PlayStation 3 fund to help me battle boredom as I fought cancer in Sacramento.

Since we do not have comic strips in the Daily Bruin, these past four years have shown me that the most important parts of our newspaper are the people: the people in our words and photographs, as well as those who give those people voices in our stories. These people have created so many rich experiences and memories, and have become one of the most important parts of my life.

Lum was photo editor in fall 2008, 2006-2007 assistant photo editor and an arts & entertainment writer from 2007 to 2008.

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Jessica Lum
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