In high school, Shaheed M. Morris rushed home every night after his part-time job to watch ESPN News. He admired the sportscasters and dreamed of becoming one.
He remains transfixed by the news. Always poised and polished in business clothes, he often pauses mid-conversation to check the news on his smartphone.
He reads voraciously, attends jazz concerts and travels for pleasure. But Mr. Morris, who consumes as many as five newspapers each day, identifies as a journalist before anything else.
“It’s an honor to be a journalist,” he said. “I embarked on this journalism journey not for my own interests or name’s sake but to be able to inform the public of what’s going on in their communities.”
Mr. Morris’s love for journalism is homegrown. Born and raised in Trenton, N.J., he began writing for his high school’s student newspaper at age 16. He was also an intern at The Trentonian, a local newspaper.
“Trenton is home,” he said. “There’s a famous bridge in Trenton that reads: ‘Trenton Makes, the World Takes.’ I often tell people that if you can make it in Trenton, you can make it anywhere.”
Mr. Morris, 26, is a rising junior at Thomas Edison State College. He had previously enrolled in mortuary school but soon realized it was not a good fit. “I love to talk and ask a lot of questions,” he said, and he decided to pursue a career more in line with his interests.
He also works as a freelancer and has been published on PolitickerNJ.com and in The Trentonian. He is a member of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Journalists.
Mr. Morris said he is always eager to cover the courts, crime and breaking news stories. He recalled covering the trial of Tony F. Mack, the Trenton mayor convicted of corruption in early 2014. The late nights, rushed deadlines and low wages that accompanied Mr. Morris’s experience point to his dedication and passion for news.
He said he loves composing pieces that resonate with his readers, and his broader goal is to become a better writer.
“Ultimately, it’s not about getting hired,” he said. “It’s not about forecasting the future. It’s about becoming a better storyteller and writer.”