The last time I worked full-time in a newsroom, Bill Clinton was in the White House, everyone was terrified of Y2K, and The Blair Witch Project was the hot movie. The height of technology was the dial-up modem that allowed you to connect, after several frightful minutes and not always with success, to the mysterious informational realm of the world wide web.
I left full-time journalism when I was hired in 1999 to a tenure track position teaching journalism at Santa Monica College. Since then I’ve taught hundreds of journalism students at SMC while watching the field of journalism churn through monumental changes. I’ve kept up with these shifts, of course, and adapted curriculum changes as needed. But reading journalism-related blogs, attending journalism conferences and holding annual advisory board meetings with local professionals just wasn’t enough to keep up with the rapid pace of change.
That’s when I heard about a very special program offered by the International Center for Journalists called the Back in the Newsroom Fellowship. ICFJ’s fellowship program takes educators at colleges with large Latino populations and places them in cutting-edge digital newsroom in the United States. The goal is to give them a close-up view to how media companies are creating and distributing their content so that educators could take these practices back into the classroom. The overall goal is to increase diversity in the newsroom.
I was accepted into this program in mid-May, 2015. I’m preparing to spend nine weeks inside the Los Angeles Times beginning June 1. Before that I will travel to ICFJ’s Washington D.C. office for two days in late May for program orientation and a chance to meet the five other journalism teachers selected to the program.
With this blog I hope to share my experiences as I step back into a newsroom for the first time since dial-up modems were all the rage.