Ann constantly stresses to me (and everyone else!) the importance of telling our stories. We have to be in control of our own narratives, because if we are not, what is remembered of us will not be accurate.
As a media studies student, I have become all too aware of what happens when the narrative is controlled by someone other than the subject. It can become distorted, unrecognizable, and anything but the truth. I have decided that I refuse to allow this happen to me.
I am not sure when exactly it was that I became aware of what a primary source is, but I have long recognized the importance of them.
For those who don’t know, consider this definition from the Princeton University library reference desk:
A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. Some types of primary sources include:
- ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records
- CREATIVE WORKS: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art
- RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings
Examples of primary sources include:
- Diary of Anne Frank – Experiences of a Jewish family during WWII
- The Constitution of Canada – Canadian History
- A journal article reporting NEW research or findings
- Weavings and pottery – Native American history
- Plato’s Republic – Women in Ancient Greece
A secondary source analyzes and interprets the information found in a primary source. They were not a part of the original event, they are just there to tell you what happened based on what they found out from studying primary sources.
Getting to the point: I would much rather be the primary source of information for my life and times than let someone else tell it. People get the facts wrong. They leave things out. They may even tell the story with a slant so that it favors them to a certain degree.
Never let that be your legacy.
I am taking a vow to be a primary source for what is happening now and in the future as long as I am here breathing. It is my job as a journalist. Journalism today has strayed so far from what it was originally intended to be that the telling of our stories has to come from us; we cannot trust anyone else to do it.
I hope you will, at least in some part, do the same and tell your stories too.