The first time I truly understood the power, the potential and grace of journalism was when I screwed up.
I was 16 years old and nervous. My high school football team was playing on statewide television. I managed to make a pair of mistakes that many in my small town believed cost us victory.
The next morning – back when daily newspapers printed late-breaking local news – the reporter who covered the game, Barbara Caywood, did not mention me by name. She could have, but she instead focused on the drama and excitement of the football game, not the 16-year-old placekicker who inexplicably missed two short field goals.
That Friday in September shaped my perspective on journalism: Always report on others how I would want someone to treat me in that situation.
Throughout my career, I have strived to humanize complex, controversial, and mundane stories to focus on the people at the heart of issues and topics. Whether it is the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar organization or the child who scored her first goal, I have dedicated my career to chronicling the people who power communities.
A news organization cannot profess to be the voice of a community without being willing to listen to all the perspectives of it.
At Jacksonville Today, I look forward to listening to the oft forgotten and the marginalized, as well as those with influence, resources and power for their perspectives on equity, infrastructure, investment and more during our region’s period of growth and transformation.
I am a native Floridian who fully embraces the quirks of this state. I was born in Sarasota, reared in Rockledge, trained in Tallahassee, married a girl from Jacksonville — we met during an American foreign policy class at Florida A&M — and found a home in the River City.
Jacksonville, as one executive in town mentioned recently, has the largest collection of Black people in Florida. My desire as a Report For America corps member at Jacksonville Today is to bring their stories, both ordinary and extraordinary, to the forefront, with clarity and context.
My DMs are open (@wwbrown19), my cell phone number is not a state secret and my email is email@example.com. As great as those forms of communication are, in-person conversations are usually far more enriching. I look forward to meeting many of you on this journey at Jacksonville Today.
Will Brown is one of more than 300 Report for America corps members working in more than 200 local newsrooms across the U.S. in 2022.