By Marco Siler-Gonzales
At a time when smartphones and tablets have made way to lightning fast news streams and countless new forms of media, aspiring journalists must take into account their ability to maneuver through this hyper competitive race of distributing information.
Shrinking newsrooms and the increasing expectations for one reporter to cover multiple platforms of media places journalism as somewhat of a daunting career path.
But never fear! Former City College students turned prominent bay area journalists attended Mission Campus last tuesday to deliver some hope and guidance at the “Why Journalism Matters” symposium.
Recruited by Tom Graham’s journalism 26 class, ABC 7 news anchor Cheryl Jennings, KQED criminal justice reporter Alex Emslie, Examiner Columnist Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez and Pacific Sun editor Molly Oleson spoke personally on their careers as journalists at City College’s very own publication, The Guardsman, and to media outlets beyond campus.
In just a month, Graham’s public relation class was able to rally these prominent journalists to Mission’s campus where they were met with a jam packed room of students and faculty.
“This class is a motley crew of 11, comprised of people from all walks of life and different levels of motivation for being in the class.” April Chan said, who took the lead as curator for the event, “With limited resources and against draconian bureaucracy, we pulled this off together in one month. Can’t think of a better representation of the community college environment.”
So, Why does journalism matter? Considering news outlets are subject to market standards now more than ever, and social media has made it exponentially difficult to separate fact from fiction, why is journalism such an important role to take for the younger generation?
Solid reporting is critical to serve as watchdog for the community, especially as a Guardsman reporter, Fitzgerald said.
“There are always stories that other reporters can’t get to. You’re in the thick of things, you have access. There up there, you’re down here.” Fitzgerald said.
As for the fervent expectations for journalists these days, Alex Emslie sees it as just another way the job is evolving.
“I can’t describe how much that newsroom (KQED) has changed. but really what i’m supposed to do all day is be where the most interesting place at that particular time is, and talk with those people involved.” Emslie said.
Oh, and if you’re agonizing over the woes of being a part time student, just remember Cheryl Jennings took 10 years to work her way through City College. Jennings broke into the journalism landscape as an unpaid fifty hour a week freelancer for KNBR radio.
“Persevere, persevere, persevere.” Jennings repeated, “When you think it’s getting hard just think of me.”
The Symposium ended at nine pm, with many of the journalists sticking around to speak individually with any student that approached.
“When the symposium ended there was such excitement and good feelings among our students,” Journalism Department Chair Juan Gonzales said. “You could hear in their voices and see on their faces how inspiring the event was and how our alumni touched their very souls.”
After serving more than 30 years as department chair, Gonzales remains confident in their ability to create inroads to the professional industry.
“I truly believe the symposium instilled greater confidence about the career path many of our students have chosen because journalism does matter,” Gonzales added.