Senior Column | Finding and holding on to a love for storytelling

Writing has been a large part of my life for a while now, I am grateful my experience at The Daily Iowan expanded this passion.


Contributed photo of Yassie Buchanan, Opinions Columnist.

Yassie Buchanan , Opinions Columnist

Two years ago, suffering from boredom during quarantine, I decided to explore what The Daily Iowan had to offer. I remember seeing “we are always hiring” on the website and tentatively filling out an application.

I had no experience with journalism, and no idea how to go about writing my first column, but through experience and practice started to get acclimated to things. Two years ago, I had never heard of what the AP Stylebook was, had no concept of a lede, or what supplements referred to. My eyes were opened to a whole new world of writing.

Working in journalism has shown me the passion this field requires. It has also taught me the importance of asking why, especially when writing about social justice issues. While bringing attention to an issue is a first step, often there is a lot to investigate within an
overarching issue.

Without asking and being asked why, I never would have finished my project, “Examining the erasure of Black history in education,” which won best column in the 2021 Associated Collegiate Press Awards. I also would never have finished my most recent project on infant mortality, opening my eyes to another disparity Black Iowans face.

I am grateful that the DI has allowed me to develop as a writer and as a critical thinker.

Another way writing at the DI has surprised me is through the occasional restoration of my faith in humanity. We have had the pleasure of writing through a pandemic, social justice uprisings, and tragic events, and there are always people in the community working hard to drive change.

Even when I have felt peak apathy toward Iowa politics, the passion to center marginalized people shown by readers, other writers, and community members always comes through.

When writing about infant mortality, I talked to a multitude of powerful Black women working to address disparities. When examining the erasure of Black history in our education system, I talked to multiple community members dedicated to reforming curricula and exposing the true contributions Black people make in the U.S.

As a result, I have consistently been reminded of how important it is to stay grounded in the communities that have contributed to my own success. Through writing and sharing stories, I feel the most connected to playing a part in advocating for progress.

While I love writing short stories, nonfiction essays, and occasionally poetry, writing journalistically has given me a new passion. It has expanded my understanding of what I can do with language and how statistics don’t have to be boring.

I have a lot of people at the DI to thank for encouraging and uplifting the stories and columns I wanted to share — and, also, for teaching me about journalism, and how to become better at something I love.

If you ever feel like you have a story to tell, I highly recommend looking at the DI as a place to start.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.