Home Info Inspired student journalists want to make a difference – Press Telegram

Inspired student journalists want to make a difference – Press Telegram

Inspired student journalists want to make a difference – Press Telegram

By RICH ARCHBOLD | Press-Telegram

The shirt Julie Roosa was wearing said it all, “America Needs Journalists.”

Those three words energized an enthusiastic audience of more than 500 students and teachers attending the Associated Collegiate Press National College Media Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Long Beach last week.

Rick Green, keynote speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning editor, had spotted Roosa in the audience and asked her to stand as he opened his remarks on “Why journalism still matters.”

“Now, more than ever we need,” said Green as Roosa stood to loud applause.

Roosa, an Iowa State University journalism professor, was attending the conference with her high school daughter, Marinza Roosa, who told me later that following in her mother’s footsteps “would be cool.”

Green, a veteran journalist, is now editor of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. He was editor of the Louisville Courier Journal when it received the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for its coverage of more than 600 pardons and commutations that former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued during his final hours in office. Green also was editor of the Palm Springs Desert Sun when that paper told the stories of 402 World War II veterans.

In his inspirational talk, Green told the aspiring girls that what they were doing in journalism in college and what they would be doing when they graduated was essential.

He said journalism was “a calling, not a job.”

“You are in the golden age of storytelling,” he told the students. “We are changing. We are not the same industry we were 37 minutes ago, but content comes first. Everything starts with great content.”

Excellent content showed in entries from students in this year’s Journalism Association of Community Colleges contests, according to Patrick Schmiedt, journalism professor at Citrus College and contest director.

“The entries this year are as strong as ever, a real tribute to these student during these difficult pandemic times” Schmiedt said. “Today’s students want to make a difference in the community and tell stories and the truth about major issues.”

SCNG staffers Larry Wilson, left, and Chris Haire, right, flank Chris Benis, editor of the Los Angeles Loyolan, the student newspaper at Loyola Marymount University.

Chris Benis, editor of the Los Angeles Loyolan, the student newspaper at Loyola Marymount University, said he did not view journalism as a job “but as a service to the community. I want to change the world as much as I can by building trust with people. I want to use my words to reach readers.”

I talked with Benis at workshops run by my colleagues with the Southern California News Group. Chris Haire, city editor of the Press-Telegram and Daily Breeze, told students how to write compelling news stories. Larry Wilson, a member of the SCNG editorial board and public editor of the Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Whittier Daily News, gave tips on how to persuade readers through great opinion pieces.

Haire, who studied journalism at Fullerton College and received a bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State University and a master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, told students to “write for your readers to help them make informed decisions. Value your readers and what you tell them.” He also said stories will only be as compelling as the reporting and research that goes into them.

Wilson, a member of the board of the student newspaper at UC Berkeley, said opinions should be strong on an editorial page but that facts still matter.

“Don’t shoot from the hip,” Wilson said. “Every writer needs an editor”. The best of you needs someone looking over your shoulder to check what you’re saying for accuracy.”

Other students I talked with from the Mt. SAC College student publication in Walnut said they thought journalism was a great way to make a difference in a community.

Christie Yeung, managing editor, said, “I just want to do my part to make the community better, not change the world.”

Samantha Acevedo, Pop editor, said she wanted to break down language barriers, prejudices and stereotypes of women and people of color.

Megan Cansino, a senior reporter, said she discovered that writing was a good way to reach people.

Laura Widmer, executive director of the Associated Collegiate Press, said today’s student were enthusiastic about reporting and writing.

“They want to inform people and set the world straight on major issues facing them” she said.

Stefanie Frith, journalism adviser at El Camino College, said students today are taking journalism because they have personal reasons for wanting to change things for the better and they feel journalism is the best way to do that.

After talking with students, teachers and administrators at the conference, I came away feeling encouraged by the next generation of children. These students will have many challenges to face, but they appear ready to take the torch.

As editor Rick Green said in his keynote remarks, journalism still does matter and America needs.



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