The Soloist is a true story about Steve Lopez, an LA Times journalist, and a homeless Julliard trained musician whom he meets and writes a story on.
At first Lopez thought it would be a great story, but as he talked to Nathaniel Ayers and got to know him he started to become emotionally attached to the story. In journalism there must be some degree of separation from the story a journalist writes and the journalist. When a journalist becomes too attached to a story or a subject it becomes less about informing the public about current events or interesting stories, and more about the journalist. Stories are supposed to be objective and when journalists become too emotionally attached they cannot be completely objective. Even without being emotionally attached it is difficult to be objective.
Everyone has opinions and that isn’t a bad thing. No matter how hard we try we cannot be completely objective because we as humans are influenced by our experiences and surroundings. Without these feelings and opinions we lose the passion for the stories we write. It is not a bad thing to feel a connection to a story and to become involved with the story and those you report on. In fact I think journalists should be more involved in the stories they write. It makes the stories more real and personable. When a writer is too disconnected from what he is writing it is not as appealing or interesting to the audience.
Lopez became extremely involved with Ayers and it did influence him and what he did in relation to the stories he wrote. While this could have been a bad thing I think that in the long run Lopez did the right thing. He met a man who really needed help and needed a friend. While not every journalist should take such an intense interest in every story they write, when we meet people or experience situations that speak to us we should go for it and do what we can to help make the world a better place. That is what Lopez did. He helped Ayers become a better person and Ayers in turn helped Lopez become a better person. These experiences are part of being human and to deny that, especially for journalists, is denying what it means to be human.
I chose to go into journalism because I want to make a difference in the world. I don’t want to just sit in an office and write stories all day. I want to be out in the world experiencing things first hand and help open the eyes of the world to what is out there. I want to make a difference in people’s lives and while I know that there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed I don’t want to be a journalist that only cares about getting information out to the public. There is so much power that journalism can have and I want to use that force for good.
This is why I feel that, while Lopez may have gotten too emotionally involved in his work with Ayers, overall Lopez was justified in what he did. He wrote a column that for him turned out to be more than just a story. Journalists make a living by telling stories and that is what Lopez did. The fact that he made Ayers a little bit better than he started was an added benefit and reward of journalism. Lopez got to see his work and influence pay off. Through his columns he let LA know about problems deep within the city and help make LA a bit better in the process.