I decided to do my writer profile on Nicholas Kristof, opinion editorialist for The New York Times, after featuring him in my publishing report. He has made quite the career in international journalism by being both a writer and a human rights activist simultaneously and using his column as a tool to shed light on social and economic issues in our world. The more research I’ve done, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that activism writing is one of the toughest forms of writing, and it takes a very specific combination of inspiration, motivation and bravery to do it.
The common factor I’ve seen between activist journalists is that there is usually a precise catalyst for their work. For Nicholas Kristof, it was covering the burgeoning democracy movement against the Chinese government in Beijing that caused him to take action in his writing career. He had always had a passion for journalism that stretched back as far as middle school, but something about being right in the middle of the violence in Beijing gave him a whole new way of reporting. It even got him a Pulitzer Prize. From then on, he has been called the “conscience of international journalism” and has used his position at The New York Times to try to make the world a better place.
Unfortunately, it takes injustice to make any justice happen in today’s world. Sometimes, the only inspiration people need is to witness something terrible, and then they know they have to make it right. As long as there are bad things happening to innocent people, there will be good people out there who are inspired to make a difference.