Hats off to journalism

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University of Maryland sophomore Talia Richman has a split personality. One as a quiet student. The other as a passionate journalist willing to go to extremes to tell people’s stories. As soon as she puts on her “journalist hat,” Talia becomes a whole new person.

As she looks out at a group of 30 high school journalists at the Gloria Shields Workshop in Dallas, both of her personalities are evident. She brightens as she talks about the people she’s interviewed and written stories about, stumbling over her words in excitement. But her face reddens if she talks about herself, and she stumbles over her words in embarrassment, claiming that she’s “not all that interesting.”

But she is.

After winning Tops in Texas awards and serving as editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper, The Talon, Talia went on to become a senior staff writer and assistant news editor for The Diamondback, the daily paper at UMD. She’s interned at the Dallas Morning News and at USA Today. But high positions and awards aren’t what drive Talia to be a journalist.

"There’s nothing else I could imagine myself doing," Talia said.

To Talia, it’s meeting interesting people from all over the world and telling their stories that makes her love journalism, because in that moment when she’s talking to that other person, she gets to become what they are. A cancer patient. A transgendered teen. An exonerated ex-convict on death row.

"I get to take little pieces of their story and add it to my own story," Talia said. "When I’m talking to people, I feel like I tell them less about myself and more about the cool people I’ve written stories about."

Talia believes everyone has a story to tell. Her college has over 23,000 students, and she insists that all 23,000 students have something to tell. There’s always a backstory to every person.

"News is always breaking," Talia said. "I have the world at my feet."

Talia works to break those stories that may not seem all that important or all that apparent, and she gives those people a voice. Wade Kennedy, her high school newspaper adviser, remembers what “Tally” was like in her early days as a journalist.

"If I could say one thing about Tally it’s that while she is a gifted writer, the thing that sets her apart is that she is a really, really motivated reporter," Kennedy said. "She will go out and do all the leg work and ask the questions and she won’t stop until she feels like she has the important questions answered."

This work ethic shows through in Talia’s plans for her future. After traveling to Israel this summer, she’s been able to see how much other countries depend on American media to expose issues in government and politics. Traveling allows her to gain new opinions and learn about the world in a variety of perspectives. In fact, that’s what Talia wants to do after she graduates from college: travel.

"To get to see the world and write about it - that’s the dream," Talia said.

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