On the eve of my grad school studies, I find myself reflecting back to the advice of Medill professor Louise Kiernan. She gave her top 10 pieces of advice for becoming great journalists and surviving grad school. One of them resonated with me.
She said embrace the gray. People are never black and white. Often times journalists place people in a familiar category (ie the unlikely hero, the concerned parent). It fits into an easy mold, and makes for a simple story to tell. Hey, I’m guilty of it – many of us are, but that’s not always a complete, or entirely accurate story.
People are complex and contradictory. It’s in our nature. Don’t shy away from the gray, embrace it.
This is great advice not just for storytelling, but for life. We’re all various shades of gray. Whether you’re a journalist, or just trying to make up your mind about your neighbor down the street, remember to seek and embrace the intricacies we discover in people.