When I think back to the first column I wrote for Warrior Words, I remember my excitement over having my worked published for the public to read and relate to. In barely a year, my perspective on my role as a columnist writer has shifted dramatically.

If you asked me a year ago what my life would look like today, I never would have imagined that the country, and the world, would be overwhelmed with facing a pandemic virus, murder hornets, and so much civil unrest. For a journalist, today’s world provides ample opportunities to produce a story which exposes truths, or communicates struggles and triumphs. I’ve come to realize that as a young writer, and as an aspiring journalist, what’s more important than taking advantage of all this writing material at my disposal is taking advantage of my position as a public communicator.

Any time anyone publishes a book, an article, an editorial, or reports on news stations, they gain the opportunity to influence all of their viewers — to answer their questions, confirm their concerns, alleviate their stress or add to it, and offer different perspectives.

Today’s society is hounded by the media — so many news stations and papers are broadcasting and debating similar topics, and exposing truths and lies about previous reports. There is so much constant news that we don’t know who to believe. Too often new stations and papers are criticized for their bias and prejudiced reports, but the truth is, everyone has bias and some amount of prejudicial ideas. The problem with media is not the content, but the delivery.

So, as a journalist, how do I gain my viewer’s trust? How do I intrigue them? How do I convince people to acknowledge a different angle on a subject? How do I educate the public with as little bias as possible?

In my limited experience, the answer is that in order to fulfill all of these aforementioned tasks of a journalist, I must be completely willing to share my life.

Now, what does that mean? When I reflect on all of my columns this year, I realize that the power behind every statement, or message of my pieces are derived from personal narratives. When a journalist can express themselves through personal experience in their lives, their followers can better relate to the writer and understand where the inspiration for their message comes from. Sharing life experiences doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your readers will agree with you, or that they have experienced the same scenario, but it creates trust and understanding between each other.

This establishes a respectful relationship between the writer and the reader: I hear you, I know where you’re coming from, here’s my experience, and here is what it has taught me.

As of now, I have applied and been accepted to write for two newspapers for my college this coming fall. This experience with Warrior Words has made me feel more prepared, not only for these opportunities, but for any experience in my life in which I need to, or have the chance to communicate my opinions and experiences.

Thank you to everyone who has read, and hopefully enjoyed my pieces throughout this year. It has truly been a pleasure, and a gift writing for my town.

Madeline Pennino is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with three classmates.