As someone interested in pursuing a career in journalism, writing for an online publication gives me a creative and emotional outlet. I may add a comical listicle here and there, mainly for the purpose of entertainment, but much of my work is a direct translation of my thoughts and personal experiences on topics I find interesting and insightful.
Writing for me is getting my voice out there—and having it heard.
Prior to writing for this amazing site called The Odyssey Online (*wink wink*) I had the opportunity to write for a different writing platform. Don't get me wrong, this publication had a vibrant community of inspiring and respectful writers. I truly felt driven in the successful environment they promoted, and believed that this job was just what I needed to kickstart my amateur career. But, just two weeks after I confidently started my new position as a freelance writer, I did what many people questioned--I quit.
Why did I quit?
The reason is simple: Because there were certain limitations on what I can write about, and my voice seemingly didn't matter.
I gave this job my everything. Drafting pages upon pages of content and pitching the life out of each and every one of my ideas. Yet, I was hit back with a response along the lines of:
"Sorry, we can't publish this because it's not in line with what we're trying to promote on our site."
Facing rejection sucks. That's the nature of a writing profession, because journalism is an extremely critical industry where you'll constantly face controversy for expressing yourself and your ideologies. But when my work was rejected merely for the reason of raising my voice, I stayed true to my originality and refused to write within an outlined boundary just so one of my articles could be "approved".
In reality, journalists around the world are facing far more than rejection.
Ever since Trump began attacking the media for scrutinizing his administration and famously branding it "Fake News", threats of violence towards reporters and journalists have dramatically increased. Reports of verbal, physical and sexual assault within the broadcasting/entertainment industries have increased exponentially, launching the revolutionary "Me Too" movement.
News companies such as CNN are being scrutinized for televising certain headlines to promote viewership when in reality, they are simply reporting current issues from their moral point of view.
Discrimination, not to mention death threats and assassination attempts are being conducted by government officials in rogue countries. Most recently, Jamal Khashoggi, a missing Saudi Arabian journalist was found brutally killed and dismembered potentially by officials of his own country.
Khashoggi, a former advisor to Saudi government and royal officials, worked for top news companies in his country before one of his articles was banned from publication. He was fired from his own newspaper (where he had been a weekly contributor for over six years), in fear that his stance on political autocracy would lead others to criticize the ruling of newly crowned Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Destined to embrace his freedom of expression, however, he moved to the United States to be a Washington Post columnist where he was a powerful critic of Trump for his "contradictory" stance on Middle Eastern affairs and support for the civil war in Syria.
As of today his death is still a mystery—both Saudi officials and Turkish intelligence are pointing fingers at each other—but his death has since launched an international intrigue, with now even the White House fervently demanding to know how and why Khashoggi simply vanished during his visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Was it "rogue killers" that were against his partnership with the Islamic organization Muslim Brotherhood?
Or was it truly a "botched interrogation", as Saudi officials put it?
As citizens of the free world, we can't help but ask—did he risk his life in order to get his voice heard?
Reports say that he "feared for his life" two months prior, being convinced that the Saudi government was out to kill him in a pre-planned murder scheme. He had been well known and respected for the way he stood up to his beliefs of the political corruption of his home country.
The world may never know the truth behind his death. But through this, we're aware of what he had to say, and the extreme measures he took in order for his thoughts to be heard.
In this case, this man sacrificed his life to get his voice heard.
And in his absence, his supporters and the people close to him are emphasizing the importance of getting your voice heard—because your opinion matters.