By Sindhu Ravuri // Mosaic Staff Writer
It’s almost over. I can’t believe but, it’s actually almost over. The only thing more shocking is that I am actually depressed about it. I’m sad about leaving these crazy, quirky people who I have grown so close with over merely two weeks. I’m sad about ditching the comfort of the Spartan Daily newsroom which has grown to be a second home for me. I’m just sad that Mosaic is actually ending.
But that doesn’t mean that I am leaving solely with a notion of tragedy and depression. In fact, I feel the exact opposite way. I am leaving with a feeling of excitement, of insight, and of freedom – not to be melodramatic.
I mean, think about it. Where else would I get to be thrown around upside down for a loop and still feel great and accomplished afterwards? I came in here with a vision on writing an article on sex trafficking, thinking it would be easy. You know, the usual plate of hard work with a dash of late night writing.
I could never have guessed how wrong I was.
Even though I was able to contact every single person I needed to, from Emmy-award winner Ruchira Gupta to human trafficking victims all over the world in both India and the Bay Area, it simply wasn’t enough. Let me explain.
I came across a famous and established sex trafficking victim who claims that her own parents started abusing her and subsequently selling in her in brothels and magazines as early as ten years old. After I heard her story and interviewed her (in addition to my other 100000000 other interviews), my heart just went to her. All I could process was how lucky I was to have the parents that I have, and the trauma that she went through.
So, I wrote my article with a bang-on lede, introducing the victim as the face of the story and forcing readers to be attracted to what I was writing.
But, of course, things aren’t so simple. Especially when the topic being dealt with is as serious, heavy, and impactful as sex trafficking … and cue in Sharon Noguchi.
Sharon has been my editor since the beginning of Mosaic, and, I must say, I couldn’t have asked for someone more approachable, knowledgeable, and cute as my very first editor from the Mercury News. It’s because of her that I was taken on the amazing path I am about to tell you of as we speak…
After reading my second or third draft, Sharon told me that her “journalistic instincts” were thrown off by the lack of prosecution of the aforementioned victim’s case. She felt that, ultimately, something was just missing. The next logical step was to call her parents and ask for their reaction.
Easier said than done, my friend.
But, you can’t be a journalist unless you try. So that’s exactly what I did. When I heard her mom’s voice, I was at first prepared to be flat out rejected. However, I knew I would never get this chance again, and I grabbed it. After telling her as truthfully as I could that I wanted to know her side of the story, she let it all out. Hearing her cry for her daughter, telling me she loves her immensely, describing to me how she would always be biking behind her kids to make sure they never fall … some part of me got more touched than ever. And I broke down with her. Hey, I couldn’t help it!
Somewhere in her voice I could felt instinctually that she was telling me the truth, that she could never lie yet sound so sincere. But, then again, there was always the voice in the back of my mind that was asking, why would her daughter lie so much?
That minute my blacks and whites turned murkier gray and I didn’t know what to do.
I started talking with her, telling her God will be there for her if she is in fact telling the truth (I know its really weird). And it was in that moment that I realized what journalism is all about. That one moment which just flips your whole universe around and makes you feel that you have to do justice to a story, to tell both sides. To be fair. Because at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
My story, due to lack affirmation from the police about prosecution and these two interviews, had to naturally be re-worked to make the victim not the face of the lede. I had to keep her tremendous story relevant though, and, if it weren’t for Sharon, I never would have been able to. She really helped my story maintain its character, its impact, but change it so that we were being fair to all sides ot the story. So that we could be truly good reporters. Hopefully, I was able to fulfill that role.
So, clearly, I was put in a pickle. But that’s the thing about Mosaic. I was able to make it through with more experience, more happiness, and more confidence. I felt good about myself after finishing that article which I had toiled so hard over for almost two weeks.
As in the words of Channing Tatum in the movie classic “Dear John,” “Two weeks together, that’s all it took, two weeks for me to fall for you.” Well, obviously there’s a small correction: “to fall for [journalism].”