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I haven’t given up on journalism and hope you won’t

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This column began in 2008 when I left the Orlando Sentinel as a senior reporter and entered the health-care profession as a licensed massage therapist. This week, the column ends as I begin a new chapter of my career and enter nursing school. Class starts Sept. 10.

Having left other writing jobs at various newspapers in the past, I know the departure will be bittersweet for a long time to come. Writers like to write, regardless of the profession we choose. Whether in a massage room or a hospital room, my mind thinks like a journalist.

I “see stories” everywhere I look. When I see injustice, my instincts are to trumpet it from the rooftop. When I hear of incompetence, I want to point it out and remedy it. When I see interesting things that make me go “hmmm,” I want to share it with you and thousands of others. Newspapers always gave me that ability and this column continued to allow me voice.

The initial decision to leave journalism full-time after 20 years and enter health care several years ago wasn’t easy. But I honestly began to believe I could be a more effective person helping people one person at a time with their pain and suffering than I could through my reach with mass media. At least I wanted to try.

I still want to try and feel nursing is an avenue that will give me more opportunities in more places.

But I haven’t given up on journalism and I hope you won’t either. This column is ending, but the need for excellent journalism may never be greater.

We have a nation filled with fat kids who are getting diseases once relegated to obese old people. We have millions of Americans who cannot access basic health care much less care if they need surgery or extended care.

I know a woman whose mother has a prolapsed uterus that hangs so far out of her body that she has nicknamed it, but yet she makes too much to qualify for government aid, but not enough to afford insurance on her own. It’s sad. Stories like hers could fill books.

We have misinformation on health issues spewing on blogs, social networks and websites galore.

We also have a growing economic gap of haves and have-nots, exacerbated by a financial system that disenfranchises those with bad credit histories. And on top of it all, we have a political system that has politicians in both major parties for sale, none of whom can relate to any of the above-mentioned issues.

Not since this nation’s founding has excellent journalism been more important if we are going to remain a nation that even remotely purports to stand for “liberty and justice for all.” There is a crisis in journalism simultaneously as news outlets struggle for profits to stay viable. Health News Florida is providing excellent coverage of issues pertaining this state. It’s been fabulous to be associated with that.

As I move forward in my health career, I go committed to the same principles that have always driven me. Thank you for reading my column. I will continue serving you as a licensed massage therapist in Florida.


Kumari Kelly is a licensed massage therapist (MA56756) and independent journalist and can be reached at kumari_kelly@yahoo.com.