By Meyer Gorelick
City College Journalism Department Chair Juan Gonzales received the Lifetime Achievement Award, while 18 of his students past and present took home first place prizes on Thursday, Sep. 17 at the San Francisco Press Club’s 2020 Bay Area Journalism Awards.
Gonzales, who just celebrated the 50th anniversary of El Tecolote, the bi-lingual Mission Neighborhood newspaper he founded in 1970, has been the journalism department chair at City College since 1985.
“It means a lot,” Gonzales said about the award. “It’s kind of a recognition of all the effort that one makes to try to be of service to people especially if their pursuing a career in journalism.”
He said that seeing so many of his students and El Tecolote journalists receive awards “gravy to the experience.”
City College student publications Etc. Magazine and The Guardsman both won first place for Best College Magazine and Best College Newspaper.
Etc. Magazine alumnus Janeth Sanchez won first place for her fall 2019 issue cover photo from Daniel Murphy’s story “Psychedelic Therapy” which won first place for College Media Business/Technology Story.
“It feels rewarding,” Sanchez said. “It feels like, oh, somebody sees this. Somebody with this authority believes that it’s a good cover, so it’s encouraging to keep working hard.”
Sanchez has received her Journalism Certificate from City College and has been freelancing and doing commercial shoots for Sue Tallon Photography.
David Horowitz, a City College Journalism Department graduate who is in his final year at San Francisco State University, won for his El Tecolote story “Family seeks justice for slain Indigenous mother”.
Horowitz has written about the proven disparity in tracking and reporting on crimes against Black and Indigenous people.
“It’s already fucking huge when anyone dies, but there was also the bigger picture that Indigenous people’s lives aren’t taken as seriously,” Horowitz said about the story.
Emily Huston who was Editor-In-Chief at Etc. Magazine for three semesters won two awards for her fall 2019 story “A Well-Stocked Pantry,” which she wrote and photographed.
“That one was a lot of work, and it was also a lot of fun in that I met a lot of really great people at City College who are doing the important work,” Huston said about her story on the Rams Market food bank.
Huston is now freelancing while also working full-time and taking writing classes at City College. She had an investigative piece published by the San Francisco Examiner, and a piece in the Richmond Review Recently.
“It’s not easy to get assignments, especially now with lots of publications closing,” Huston said.
“I wish journalists got money instead of awards when they do a really good job on things,” Horowitz said.
The Guardsman’s Tyler Breisacher and Matheus Maynard won first place for College Media Environment/Nature Reporting.
Breisacher is currently taking classes at City College to enhance his digital media and audio production skills.
Despite the challenges students face in furthering their careers in the face of a pandemic and the ever-shrinking opportunities to earn a living in journalism, Gonzales and others feel that these awards provide meaningful recognition of the department’s accomplishments.
“I appreciate how the number of awards that El Tecolote won speaks to the quality of the journalism they produce, especially considering that a good amount of their reporting comes from students who attend CCSF and SF State,” said Horowitz.
Discussing what’s next in his long and distinguished career, Gonzales said that once he is assured that the Department is in capable hands and safe from the threat of class cuts, retirement will not be far off.
“Just the fact that we have a journalism program I think is 100% due to Juan’s many many years of Juan’s fighting to keep our classes, because it seems like they’re on the chopping block almost every semester,” said fall 2019 editor-in-chief of The Guardsman Lisa Martin, who also received an award.
“He seems to work very hard to get his students experience in the field,” Martin added. “Personally, I’ve had him recommend me for an internship with Bay News Rising and another position with a local religious newspaper. I know of his other students who have gone to work for El Tecolote, SF Examiner, Ingleside Light, and SF Chronicle. I can’t remember a single educator whoever put in that much effort for so many different students. He’s not just trying to give you an education, he’s trying to put you to work. That’s something I’ve really appreciated.”
“I would like to see that the department continues to be a viable academic program and career program at City College, even in light of the fiscal crisis it faces because journalism is so important to democracy,” Gonzales said. “We’re teaching students how to be the next storytellers and watchdogs of the powers that be is still an important mission of journalism, and I hope that the college realizes that and makes sure that the journalism department stays as part of the institution and is supported as much as possible, to see its growth.”
City College Journalism Students Honored:
Chiara Di Martino
Amal Ben Ghanem
David Mamaril Horowitz
Janeth R. Sanchez
Peter J. Suter
A full list of recipients and a video of the awards ceremony can be found at sfpressclub.org