Before Looking For A Story
I’m Alina Matis, and my LinkedIn profile would tell you that I am an award-winning Romanian journalist with over 10 years of experience covering Foreign Affairs in print, online and broadcast. A better and more concise version of this description would be that I am a journalist who spent her 20s as a workaholic and then retired from the newsroom at the age of 30. With a purpose.
I’ve reported from EU institutions, from NATO and military bases, I’ve been on the border with Syria and Iraq and also all over the US.
I know what being in the middle of a conflict zone feels like, learned what the fear in the aftermath of a terrorist attack looks like. I froze my heart out as I told the stories of the Ukrainian Euromaidan Revolution of 2013-2014, penniless and with a very bad Sony Xperia smartphone whose battery kept dying after every picture I took. I uncovered state abuse and also covered lighter stories that were a lot of fun.
I’ve met and talked to world leaders, I have interviewed some of the brightest minds there are, but I have also met so many “regular” and, at the same time, amazing people from all over the world and all walks of life who entrusted me with their stories, their fears, their joys. This is how I got to know what love and hope look like elsewhere – truly, there are no better stories than these.
Through it all, these things never changed: the world has always been my beat and I never lost sight of the power of storytelling. I know what being bombarded with non-stop pieces of information looks like. After all, I’ve been on both ends of this process. We now get and disseminate too much information that lacks context and does not amount to anything wholesome, anything truly meaningful to our lives. Stories, on the other hand, are what we lack. They are power, meaning, a thread that can unite us all. We, humans, depend on stories, that’s what societies are based upon.
Leaving the newsroom
Having a plan – this has a always been my thing. Checking boxes, sprinting through my days for personal, social and professional validation. I ran and I ran, which made me too tired to reassess the route or the finish point.
Until one day, as my 20s drew to a close and narrowly avoided my first age-related life crisis, I looked into a memory mirror and realized that I dearly missed something: the joy of storytelling. By that time, I was doing very little field work (which I will always choose instead of a fancy TV studio), I was wearing thick layers of professional make-up and lots of hairspray every day and I was explaining the world without really seeing it anymore.
Now, get ready for the grand finale (of sorts): in November 2018, I left the newsroom and stopped for the first time in my adult life – scariest thing there is for a workaholic, mind you! Everyone kept asking me where I was going, what newsroom I was heading to next. They looked at me distrustful when I said that I was just going home. What I couldn’t tell them at that point, fearing to jynx it, was that I was indeed going somewhere: to see the world I kept talking about all those years.
The backstory is that a year or so prior to my resignation, my husband and I decided to reorganize our lifestyles and save up as much money as we could, in order for me to venture on a new journey, with him on my side.
This is how Looking For A Story began. I learned to build websites, edit videos and audios. In February 2019, I launched my dream project, a multimedia platform that I see as bringing an alternative narrative on world affairs. And so, a week after I turned 30, I left Bucharest, the comfort of my home and the stability of a newsroom and started looking for stories into the big world, like the millennial journalist that I am.
I'd love to meet you or your friends!
If you or your friends live in the places I travel to, I’m always interested in get-togethers. I’d love to find out what your stories are!
Particular shoutout to my Romanian fellows!
If you are a member of the amazing Romanian diaspora and we can cross paths, I would be thrilled to do it! Send word my way if you would like that as well!