A few of you may know me, but a lot of you don’t. For those of you who don’t, my name is Gabriel Ramirez and I am a Neighborhood News Correspondent for AccessLocal.tv. I have returned to the program is because it’s really changed the way I see and feel about life and news.

Before I began participating in this program, I was just another bad teenager like one you may have seen walking around Oak Park. My life had no meaning or direction and I felt as if I was a nobody in this world and bound to end up dead. After I wrote my first article about my neighborhood and later seeing it on the News 10 website, I realized that I can be heard.

Whenever I watch the news all I see about are homicides and the people who are wanted by the police. The news influences all of our lives but if all we hear about are shootings and criminals who are on the run, we will think there is no good left in this neighborhood. If we can show people that there is still good in this neighborhood it will influence the other good people to come out and do good things.

One example is that if we show people about how a whole community will come out and help clean their local neighborhood park, people in the community will realize that we are all connected, just like a family. I now believe that news isn’t news if it doesn’t have a message to the people.

Without even knowing it, journalism is something I did before I started this program. I used to write for days in my journal about things that have happened to me and how I can benefit, learn, and grow from the things that happened. I’ve written about some stories that may not always send a positive message to the audience, but do however convey a lesson learned and an important life experience that I hope the reader will appreciate without having to go through it yourself.