Tag Archives: Journalism

My Year In Journalism: Where I Published (And Appeared) In 2017

#DailyWings: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
–Robert Collier

Even though this blog post is abominably late…um, Happy New Year, everyone! January started off quite zen for me, but things quickly became a roller coaster as I took on more journalism and work projects than I’d planned to. (Already broke a New Year’s resolution, y’all.) This year, I hope to take better care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. That means reading novels for fun, eating lots of cheese, putting on more evening face masks, and not feeling guilty for spending an afternoon doing nothing — because sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In all honesty, I have never been more eager to say goodbye to a year than the Dumpster Fire of 2017. Aside from the fact that we got a horrible new president, I struggled with a lot of anxiety and low self-confidence, but most of it was created in my own mind rather than created as a product of external circumstances. A mix of New York pacing, small failures, feelings of being an imposter, and unrealistic multitasking did it for me, and I spent a good portion of the year trying to over-compensate for what I believed about myself: Not Good Enough.

In the spring of 2017, I completed my lifestyle fellowship at Bustle and applied for a two-week journalism fellowship in Germany. I went through two rounds in the application process and became very excited about the idea of going overseas for a few weeks. Consequentially, I did what you’re never supposed to do during an application process: I emotionally put all of my eggs in one basket. When I found out that I ultimately didn’t get the fellowship, it didn’t hit me until almost the end of the year how much it had affected me. More on that in a moment.

From a journalism perspective, I had a great year. I learned how to write and pitch stories as an independent freelance journalist. I learned how to successfully negotiate pay rates without feeling guilty and with the knowledge that I deserved to get paid for good work. I gained a ton of experience in politics writing and editing. I started getting requests for public appearances at writing events. And I wrote a ton of stories that I’m really proud of:

Even though I am no longer at Bustle, I still continue to write stories as a freelance contributor. One of my best political stories was about the recent Down syndrome abortion ban in Ohio, signed into law by Gov. John Kasich. In the essay, I talk about how the law was designed to pit the reproductive rights and disability rights movements against each other in an effort to unconstitutionally ban abortion.

Shortly after my fellowship at Bustle ended, I wrote a Mother’s Day piece for Romper about how my mother taught me how to take care of myself. She liked her present.

About a month later, I spoke at a panel about “Literary Citizenship: The Writer’s Identity” at AmpLit Festival, an annual literary festival in Manhattan that brings together established and emerging writers. I spoke about the lack of visibility for disabled creators and the responsibility of writers to provide space and support for those whose voices are traditionally left out of creative conversations. I’m helping to co-produce this year’s festival.

A researcher contacted me at some point and said her client was publishing a new edition of his sociology textbook and wanted to use one of the photos from my first NYT feature story. I learned that republication requires a fee, so not only did I make a small profit, but now I can officially say that my work has been published in a textbook for college students.

In July, I published my second piece for The New York Times about the nurse who saved my life on her first day of working with me. Like my first NYT story, I’d written this piece at Columbia University, in my narrative writing class. It’s called “Drowning Without Water.”

I am so excited to share my first byline for Columbia Journalism Review, a story I’ve been working on for months about how #disability #journalism has changed over time and the consequences of #inspirationporn. CJR is the leading industry publication for #journos and #editors at @columbiajournalism, and I’m grateful that this story has finally found a home there. As journalists, editors and storytellers, it’s our responsibility to bring more disability voices into the #media, cover disability issues that go beyond “feel-good” features, and end disability #stigma once and for all. ✊🏼 Read the entire story at: http://bit.ly/2eCfXtQ #journalist #journolife #news #ableism #equality #identity #intersectionalfeminism

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In the fall, shortly after the Harvey Weinstein allegations, I wrote about the connection between sexual violence and multi-marginalize identity at Teen Vogue. This story is complicated in many ways (both the subject and the writing process), but I’ll just say that I am incredibly grateful to all of the people who believed in me and my ability to share this perspective. I think this essay brought something to the “Me Too” conversation that had previously been lacking.

This year, I tapped into the dating and relationships beat even further, covering one-night stands that turn into long-term relationships for Men’s Health.

Arguably my proudest story to date is an analysis that I wrote about how reporters can do better to cover the disability beat for Columbia Journalism Review, an industry publication for journalists. I’ve never worked so hard to get a story exactly right, with all of its nuances and lessons. This story was the most-read piece on CJR’s site that day, and I’ve also received some amazing opportunities as a result of its publication. (Stay tuned.)

A friend from high school, Kelsey, invited me to be a guest on her wellness podcast, Enlightened-ish. My first podcast experience hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped, probably because I was so anxious that I’d written a script out for myself so nothing sounded natural. I deliberately distracted myself from preparing too much for Enlightened-ish, and the episode turned out really well. I talk a lot about living and working as a disabled journalist, and I give tips for writers who want to get their stories out there.

I am very happy with how much I was able to accomplish in one year. The irony is that the fruit of all my hard work stemmed from intense anxiety, imposter feelings, and the belief that I had to make up for previous failures. Not getting the journalism fellowship in Germany was disappointing because I didn’t have any other “next steps” beyond Bustle, and that was scary to me. It was also disappointing because I’d worked so hard to write thoughtful essays for the application and obtain glowing reference letters, and it feels awkward to go back and say, “I didn’t get it.” But the reality is that nothing is ever guaranteed, and you should never feel bad for trying your best.

If I could go back and do something differently, I would have appreciated myself a little bit more. I’d pat myself on the back for  putting myself out there for opportunities. I’d tell myself to enjoy the process of publishing each new story. And I’d tell myself that it’s okay to take a few days off to recharge. It’s okay to do things that aren’t directly related to work all. the. time.

I’m still working on this, of course. Like everything else in life, self-care is a work in progress. I’m trying to get better at lifting up my own accomplishments and being unapologetic about who I am. What are your happiness practices? What do you do to make yourself feel more confident and appreciative of yourself? I’d love to know in the comments below.

Have a wonderful weekend xo

How To Survive Columbia Journalism School: A Non-Exhaustive Guide

#DailyWings: “I’m a story-teller. I tell stories. In some stories, I am the story. But the story transcends me. How? Hear my stories.” Guy at your J-school

Happy November! It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally finished putting together this blog post about my experiences at Columbia Journalism School (as promised), along with several nuggets of advice for prospective students — brought to you by the Class of 2016. :)

For those of you who might be new to my blog, I’ve talked about my journey to New York City in previous posts. I often tell people that going to graduate school for journalism was one of the best things I’ve ever done, even though it was also one of the most difficult. I had already obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is considered an excellent program and taught me the fundamentals of professional writing, editing and reporting. Columbia Journalism School was on a whole other level — basically UNC’s j-school on steroids.
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Why I Stopped Blogging For Two Years

#DailyWings: “Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and seeing what happens.”
-Louise L. Hay

Hi everyone. It’s taken a long time for me to come back to this website and have the courage to hit “publish” on this blog post. I’ve missed writing here. A lot has happened since I last blogged in 2015, and I feel like I owe you all — my readers — an explanation for why I stopped blogging, which was once a sacred part of my life as a writer.

Those of you who’ve been around for a while know that I started a blog for the first time on Blogspot in January 2010. It was my safe haven for many years, with a short break in the middle so that I could migrate to a new location — this website. Back then, I didn’t know things like SEO existed that could drive or inform my editorial content. My blog was simply a creative outlet for me to share my writing journey and my hobbies outside of journalism with the outside world. That was it.
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The Columbia Journo Diaries: Journalism Bootcamp, My First 2 Weeks in NYC

#DailyWings“One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” -Tom Wolfe

The Columbia Journo Diaries is a series on my blog where I share my accounts of what it’s like to be a journalism master’s student at Columbia University in the City of New York during a time when the media landscape is relying on digital innovation to survive. 

It’s Friday night, and I’m raising a solo cup filled with red wine in my right hand. Someone sitting a few feet away whistles to get everyone’s attention.

“We made it through the first two weeks! Cheers!”

“Cheers!” I place the cup between my lips. The wine warms me from head to toe.

It’s the first night I’ve actually gone out with friends – mainly, other journalism students at Columbia who decided it would be a good idea to celebrate the end of our second week of reporting bootcamp. We have a picnic set up in Riverside Park right by the Henry Hudson Parkway, barely five minutes away from my apartment. I’ve been living here since the end of July, and not once did I notice before how beautiful the sun is when it sets over the skyline. I remind myself to do this more often. No matter how stressful journalism school gets or how many times you fail, I say to myself, never forget to appreciate what’s right in front of you.
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I’m Moving to New York City to Live (Not Chase) My Dreams

#DailyWings: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” -William Faulkner

Happy June, writers and friends! Wow, has it really been a month (and some change) since my last blog post? A part of me is appalled that I took a month-long hiatus from writing, but the other part of me wants to remind myself that there is a very good reason why I haven’t been around.

Four days ago, I was finally able to make an announcement that I’ve been waiting to make for months. It’s the kind of announcement that is usually made right after a college graduation, when people are moving to new places, taking on summer internships and full-time jobs, and traveling to other countries. Honestly, it was hard for me to keep blogging without being able to share this announcement with you; I felt like keeping it inside was more difficult than not blogging at all.

Thankfully, I’m finally in a good place both emotionally and professionally now where I can share this publicly with you and my friends here on social media.
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Charlie Hebdo and Journalism in the Marketplace of Ideas

#DailyWings: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” –Eduardo Galeano

I was at work when I learned about what had happened in Paris on January 7. At the office, we have about seven or eight television screens, all of which display breaking news from CNN or sports on a daily basis. I walked past the largest TV during lunch, a napkin and utensils in my hand, when I saw the headline about terrorists on the loose in Paris. People were wounded, even dead.

Why would anyone want to attack the French?” was my initial reaction. Admittedly, I don’t know much about France outside of the stereotypes revealed to me through movies and other media growing up, and unfortunately I don’t follow French news the way I follow Chinese, American and UK news. Even with the underlying knowledge that French people aren’t all alike, I’d always viewed them as being romantic, chic and peaceful foodies.

It wasn’t until later that I learned three masked individuals — later discovered to be Islamists — had attacked the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical Parisian weekly newspaper known for publishing crude, controversial material (mainly about religion and politics). The attacks didn’t stop there. Two days later, terrorists related to the first incident attacked people in a supermarket where many Jewish Parisians live and congregate.
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Meeting Khaled Hosseini: “And The Mountains Echoed” Book Tour (and My 21st Birthday + The Great Flood of 2013!)

#DailyWings: “When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” -Pablo Picasso

A couple weeks ago, I read John Green‘s “The Fault in Our Stars,” one of the best Young Adult novels I’ve read in a long time. (If you haven’t done so already, I highly encourage you to read one or all of John’s books and/or check out the awesome vlogbrothers, a YouTube video project he coordinates with his brother Hank.) One of the book’s subplots involves the characters traveling to Amsterdam to meet the writer of their favorite book in person.After I finished reading the book, I Skyped my boyfriend — who shares my passion for good literature and was the one who introduced me to John’s work — and said to him, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if we could just meet our favorite authors like Augustus and Hazel do?”
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Observations of an Editorial Intern: Here’s to Punchy Ledes (& Other Farewell Stories)

#DailyWings: “We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.” -Vladimir Nabokov

This post is a part of my blog series, “Observations of an Editorial Intern” (as inspired by the CAFME Summer Intern Diaries). This series focuses on my experiences of interning as a journalism student for a news publication. Any viewpoints expressed on my blog are not reflective of the publication I work for. 

This semester, I completed an editorial internship at The WEEKLY, the town newspaper published by Chapel Hill Magazine.

Last Monday, I wrapped up my last few assignments for The WEEKLY and concluded the spring editorial internship. Walking out of that office for my last time this semester was bittersweet, as the end of most valuable experiences — ones that are both challenging and rewarding — tend to be. 

I like to think of the past — in this case, the “past” few months — as one huge timeline. Placing a finger at any point on the timeline, I remember where I was in the internship process at that point and how much there was still ahead of me. 
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Observations of an Editorial Intern: On Being Deadline-Driven

#DailyWings: “Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.” -Charlotte Brontë, Villette

This post is a part of my blog series, “Observations of an Editorial Intern” (as inspired by the CAFME Summer Intern Diaries). This series focuses on my experiences of interning as a journalism student for a news publication. Any viewpoints expressed on my blog are not reflective of the publication I work for. 

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It’s been a while since I updated my blog series for this semester, Observations of an Editorial Intern. Juggling classes, multiple school organizations and an editorial internship has been both a challenge and a rewarding experience. I’ve become much more attentive to news values, email communication, deadlines and interviewing tactics; at the same time, I am still learning new things every week. 

For anyone who is hoping to gain a better sense of a particular field, there is a lot of value in learning from experts — essentially, others who have been working in the industry for much longer. You can ask them about trends they’ve seen over the years, impact on the public and the micro-level details of working in that field on a daily basis. These people can include long-term employees, graduates who have gotten their feet through the door and are navigating the waters, even your mentors or bosses. 

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Call for Submissions: Wander Magazine Wants “Travel Horror Stories” From YOU!

#DailyWings: “I am on the alert for the first signs of spring, to hear the chance note of some arriving bird, or the striped squirrel’s chirp, for his stores must be now nearly exhausted, or see the woodchuck venture out of his winter quarters.”
– Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Earlier today, we were greeted — as if “greet” is the right word — with a flurry of snow. On my way to class, the wind and snow almost knocked me over! Either North Carolina weather is being ridiculous or I need to start eating meat again. What is going on, y’all? I mean, it’s almost April.

Now that we’ve established the peculiarity of April snow, I wanted to share an awesome opportunity with you: Ever wanted to be published in a magazine? 

One of the best things about being a student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communication is getting involved with various media projects in a professional news setting. This semester, I’m on the staff for Wander travel magazine, a JOMC 456 class project that has just released a call for submissions. My wonderful readers, if you have studied abroad (or currently are), spent a holiday somewhere exotic, conducted research in different parts of the world or engaged in other all-around cool things while traveling, this might interest you:
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