“You,” Cyrus said. “Why are you in this class?”
“I… uh… want to expose corruption,” the boy said. “Stand up for the little guy.”
“Okay.” Cyrus pointed in Frederica’s direction. “You, with the ears.”
The alien stiffened and cleared her throat.
“My… mother,” she said, struggling with the language. “She was… reporter… on my world. I wish to… honor her… memory.”
Cyrus smiled sympathetically.
“Thank you,” he said, and turned to another student. “How about you?”
He went all around the class like this, picking people out randomly. Their answers varied widely, from dead mothers to social justice to Pulitzer Prizes. Frederica listened carefully for any reason that spoke to her beyond inertia. Finally, Cyrus turned to Frederica.
“Don’t think I didn’t see you hiding in the corner there.” He flashed an impish smile. “Why’d you choose this major?”
“I’m… honestly still trying to figure that out,” Frederica said, looking away.
“That’s actually a really good answer,” Cyrus said. “All journalism should start from uncertainty. If you go into a story with your mind already made up, you’ll never get to the truth. You have to be willing to challenge your preconceptions. To discover things about your subject—and yourself—that you might not expect. That you might not like. So keep that open mind. It’ll serve you well.”
He stepped over to the whiteboard and wrote out a URL in block letters.
“The VCU Review is the campus newspaper for Victory City University,” he said. “I strongly encourage you all to submit your work to it, be it an article or a photograph or an op-ed. It’s run by second-year Journalism students, completely independent from school administration and any other governing body, so don’t be afraid to push buttons. If you’re not out there pissing people off, then I’m not doing my job.”