I tripped into journalism when I was sixteen. People in indigo cubicles scrolled through images of Latin America on their luminescent screens. Each blue box promised the adrenaline that comes from rushing to produce something unique and informative; rushing against the clock to make sure your piece is at its best before it moves onto the next person on the news assembly line.
A row of large screens flashed graphics and talking heads above a U-shaped icon with a cross dividing four purple, green, red and blue sections. Camera men helped themselves to the box of pan dulce (sweet bread) on the news desk. Luis Echegoyen, the Salvadoran Walter Cronkite, whose 6 o’clock news my mother and I watched religiously, entered the room and shook my hand. The Univision Spanish language news station seemed like Disneyland, except it was ten times cooler to shake Echegoyen’s hand than Mickey Mouse’s.
Alas, as a senior media studies and Latin American studies major, I do not find myself cutting the footage of a goodbye video for USFtv. I didn’t plan on doing print journalism during my time at USF, but being a staff writer and news editor for the San Francisco Foghorn has taught me to be more critical of what I am told, confident to approach strangers and to wonder about the larger context of particular issues.
The Foghorn also put me at the front of the line to meet people I would have never had access to on my own.
I was the only USF reporter allowed a one-on-one interview with Barbara Bush, one of George W. Bush’s daughters, my first year as a staff writer. I was instructed by USF media representatives to limit my questions to the health initiative she would be discussing later that evening, but I couldn’t help myself. I started the interview with, “You’re on a college campus, and I’m sure our student readers want to know what it was like to be a college student living in the White House when your dad was president. What was that like?” She rushed through her answer saying, “It was normal. A lot more than people expect.” I asked one more question about the scandals regarding drunk driving but she avoided the subject.
This interview encouraged me to be more persistent when asking questions, and explore issues that intrigued me.
Yet, the critiques I received for editorial mistakes I made (such as not paying close enough attention to the lack of perspective in a story) taught me to keep my head up under pressure, and to learn from my faults rather than dwell on them. My constant desire to improve led me to establish a more solid news team, work to help foster a sense of community among writers, and spread advice about avoiding the mistakes I’ve made.
Three weeks away from graduation, I am unsure about pursuing the T.V. medium that inspired my college studies. I’m not even sure journalism is what I see myself doing for the rest of my life. A typical college life crisis I presume.
However, I found a way to connect my interests in journalism and Latin America. I am currently developing a project that provides college scholarships to students in El Salvador who collect three minute audio recordings of their family’s war memories, and upload the clips to an online map that organizes the memories by themes and regions.