July 9, 2015

6 Things I Learned About Journalism from Rory Gilmore.


I will admit that I watched, loved, and cried over every episode of Gilmore Girls when I was a teenager and in my twenties.

Hell, I own every episode on DVD and have gone through the entire series more than once.

One thing that always stood out for me about the television series, aside from the quick witticisms and eccentricities of each character, was that Rory was like me—albeit, a more innocent, high-strung, and ambitious caricature of me. I was drawn to her persona from the first episode.

Rory, daughter of Lorelai Gilmore, is from a small, fictitious town in Connecticut called Stars Hollow. She begins the series as a high school student whose dream is to go to an Ivy League school and become a Journalist. Rory attends a very prestigious private school, Chilton, with the financial help of her wealthy grandparents, in order to compete with the best and get into her dream college.

Here’s what I learned about writing and becoming a Journalist from Rory Gilmore:

1. Stay organized:

Rory is the epitome of “on top of things.” In many episodes, she is seen studying and preparing well in advance for any assignment or test that she has.

I always imagine journalists with little scraps of paper on their desk or in their notebooks, having to piece together a puzzle, almost, of the story about which they are writing. Not Rory. Her ability to keep things “in check” and plan ahead keeps her afloat with any impending deadlines.

However, even the most well prepared people encounter snags and unexpected problems, which is why it is also important to work well under pressure.

2. Work well under pressure:

In the fourth episode entitled, “The Deer Hunters,” Rory obsesses over a bad grade she received. In every attempt to fix the problem, she studies until the point of exhaustion. You can guess where this leads…directly to Rory accidentally falling asleep at the kitchen table in a pile of her books, making her late to school the next day. She awakes abruptly and takes her mother’s car, having missed the bus. Arriving late to school and missing the test, she loses her cool and spouts off at her classmates.

In the end, Rory pulls herself together after Lorelai tells her it’s okay if she wants to leave Chilton. No, Rory will do what it takes to make it through.

Sometimes, you are thrown into assignments ill-prepared and you have to be able to carry yourself and get the job done. Sheer determination goes a long way, and stress can actually produce great results if we tend to be procrastinators. We all need a little push, sometimes.

3. Professionalism is key:

While at Yale, Rory discovers a secret society, The Life and Death Brigade, and wants to write a piece about it for the college newspaper. What happens in this episode, “You Jump, I Jump, Jack,” is a good example of what not to do as a journalist. Try as she might to get answers, ask all the right questions, and stay objective, Rory ends up getting reeled in and participating in the overnight event. Forgetting her promise as a journalist to remain professional and seek truth, she flirts with Logan, one of the members, and the episode ends with her supposed acceptance into the club.

I think it’s safe to say that Rory was not upholding the journalism fundamental principle to “Always strive for balance and freedom from bias.”

4. Don’t get too close to your Sources:

Being a good journalist means taking no sides. It also means avoiding conflicts of interest. Rory ends up in a relationship with Logan, following the episode where she writes a piece on the Life and Death Brigade.

Another prime example of what not to do as a journalist.

You cannot be taken seriously nor your information considered veritable if you are shacking up with someone you interviewed.

5. If you want something bad enough, you’ll get it:

Rory, although an Ivy League college attendee, is not always excelling in school. In the episode, “A House Is Not a Home,” her boyfriend’s father, Mitchum Huntzberger, who is also the owner of a newspaper conglomerate, tells Rory that she doesn’t have what it takes to be a good journalist. Rory leaves Yale and takes a year off as a result of his harsh criticism.

This doesn’t stop Rory. Eventually, she goes back to Yale, after realizing that she doesn’t want to give up on becoming a journalist and even takes over the school newspaper from the evil tyranny of her competition, Paris Gellar.

Not every story is going to be a winner. Success comes after many failures. As writers, if we were to give up in the face of adversity, there would be no inspiring novels, informative newspapers, magazines, or online journals.

A fact of life is that you will get stomped on, turned away, discarded, and rejected. If you are passionate enough about something, you’ll continue towards your goal, because having passion is, in and of itself, rewarding.

6. Don’t give up on your dreams:

Rory eventually leaves Yale and the series ends with her landing her dream job as a political reporter. To Rory, striving towards her career goals is a top priority.

I’m not saying one should eschew other life goals, but I find Rory’s determination admirable. Watching the series while I was in high school and college inspired me to pursue my own dream of writing.

Gilmore Girls is a trove of little life lessons, both humorous and endearing, and I still admire Rory’s character, despite her foibles. Her tenacity to make it through every obstacle encountered and her stern frankness and demand for what she wants is something to be appreciated.

The embodiment of her characteristics, I believe, demonstrates several qualities of what makes a good journalist and writer, of course, with a couple of reminders of how we can foil our dreams if we aren’t careful.



Relephant Read:

Seeing Journalism as More Than Words.


Author: Amanda Volponi

Editor: Renee Jahnke

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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