by Katy Cossette
I am a journalist with a passion for truth-telling. Through my four years enrolled in Western Washington University student publications, I have been taken down a road that has led me to some emotionally compromising situations.
But as these situations unfolded, they turned into strong, alluring stories. That is why I choose to be a journalist, because I get to tell the stories of people who we would never hear from without journalism.
I am drawn to photograph someone on the street if they have a uniqueness to them or look like they have a story worth sharing.
I have interviewed and photographed several groups of marginalized people for different student publications. In Bellingham, covering the homelessness crisis has been part of getting to know the city. Meeting a couple living under the Maritime Heritage Park bridge and spending several afternoons was one of the highlights of my time in Bellingham. I also enjoyed the long conversation I had with a homeless woman outside of Opportunity Council.
I have also photographed people living under Interstate 5 (Whatcom Watch, August 2016) in Seattle’s most dangerous homeless encampment, the Jungle. In fact, a man that I interviewed at this camp was shot and killed outside of his tent a year later.
I have interviewed numerous inmates serving time at the Whatcom County Jail, including Bréon Williams, an inmate suffering from Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Williams was confined to his cell for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, unable to go outside due to medical sanctions.
Through my visits to the jail, I have learned about the missing link of human connection within the American prison industrial complex, as well as what it means to put your heart into your work as a journalist.