By Jie Jenny Zou

A view of the national monument and reflecting pool in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jie Jenny Zou

It’s been a long, long time since I blogged. But in all fairness, I also changed jobs, switched beats, and moved to a different city.

My fellowship at The New York World was originally scheduled to end in June, but I got lucky and got some extra months tacked onto my one-year contract to finish up some projects, including this little ditty (and my very last for the World) that ran on The Marshall Project in September.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I quit my job in South Carolina and moved back to NYC to take the World fellowship over a year ago, but I’m truly glad I did.

It’s one thing to aspire to investigative journalism as a fresh-eyed reporter at a local newspaper strapped for resources and no prior tradition of in-depth and aggressive enterprise. It’s another thing entirely to have a full-time job where all you do is conceive and execute months-long investigative projects with an editor who is both willing and able.

A fair amount of self-doubt has always followed me throughout my life, especially when it comes to my career. It’s the sinking feeling in my chest when I look back at the stories I’ve done and ask myself what I’ve learned and if it’s enough. Or when I pick apart a story idea until there’s nothing left but the bare bones and a hunch.

A part of me knows that the feeling will always be there, but my hope is that I always have enough sense to realize that good journalism is not, and never should be, about me.

At the World, I started out as one of three reporters in a windowless basement office. With increasing budget constraints over the course of the year, I became the last remaining reporter there.

Such is the reality with smaller non-profit ventures like the World, which by its very nature was meant to serve as an experimental lab bridging the vocation of practical journalism with the higher ambitions of Columbia j-school’s ivory tower.

I’m happy and lucky enough to say that I’m still alive and kicking in the world of non-profit investigative journalism–albeit, at a somewhat larger venue.

Now I sit in a newsroom of nearly 50 journalists, many who are veterans in the field. I’m simultaneously inspired and nervous. Eventually, I found my own rhythm at the World, will I be able to do the same here? I wonder if I am delivering what others expect from me. If my ideas are original enough.

But then I remind myself, it’s never been about me.