In an ongoing series, where I explore other academic majors that peaked my interest at one point or another in my life, this blog post will cover the major called journalism. This blog post was made possible with the help of Jamie Perez and contributions from readers like you, thank you. (Can you imagine in an alternate dimension where like Earth-310 version of Tony Nguyen was actually a journalist instead of this Earth’s Tony pretending to be a journalist? Mind. Blown.)
I barely met Jamie this semester in “Contemporary Leisure Study”, which is just some fancy-swami word for a class based on how our individual selves and we as a society use free time but I digress. When we first had class, our teacher asked us about our majors and Jamie said journalism to then my immediate response was “Hot diggity damn, I need to talk to this chick to see what that major is all about.” This was because I’ve always found journalism mesmerizing and powerful. Journalists have so much influence on this world with the information they give to the people, whether they’re truthful or not (I would like to take this moment and give a disrespectful shout out to all those journalists out there knowingly giving skewed, incomplete, or otherwise completely false information to the public, especially you FOX news, y’all some perplexed, dirty, snakey, self–indulgent douchebag assholes still struggling to completely understand the basic concept of honest journalism. Don’t pardon my French on this one for I knew what I was saying) and in a perfect world we would only have the most responsible and honest journalists but we don’t. They’re kind of like the superheroes and supervillains of this world (not very cool heroes or villains when you think of them in the traditional sense but!… eh, never mind, I got nothing) and I always wanted to be a hero so I had to ask Jamie what it takes to become one.
Just kidding, I didn’t ask her how to be a hero (I’m a anti-hero after all).
So the story goes like this, when I first spoke to Jamie it was due in part to our mutual friend, Darren. I could tell she was an easygoing, mellow, and a confident person from the way she spoke to the fact that she drove Darren home after the first day of class even though at that point in time she barely knew him. So I jumped the gun and asked her for a interview about her major which resulted in a yes. However, I had to wait two weeks before I had the chance to sit down with her since our professor had cancelled classes for two weeks meaning our schedules wouldn’t line up with each other until then. Fast forward two weeks, boom, bang, zing, and our class had ended for the day and we (including Darren) walked over to the pool hall on campus to meet up with some of her friends. Friendly introductions to strangers over, I started the interview.
The conversation went easy enough, I told her about the rules on how I conducted my interviews, “No boring questions like “what inspired you”, “what color do you”, “if you could be a dog or a cat…” you catch my drift, I’ll try to keep the interview cool, casual and not forced upon” and thanks to the interviewee it went exactly as so. First we spoke about our current states of life, how it was going between us two, why I started the blog, how was her weekend, again cool and casual. I found out that she was of a French, Native, Mexican, and Spanish descent. Next, I delved into her major only to realize that I knew little to nothing about the journalism degree offered here at CSULB. CSULB wasn’t just teaching students the fundamentals of hardcore-in-your-face investigative techniques (if at all) or how to write an informative article but it also taught journalism media (not in a complete kind of way, where the student didn’t get to learn all about media). Jamie loved the sub-focus of journalism media where she could be artistic and use Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator to help make news more visually exciting and relatable to the viewer. It’s a much needed talent especially since this generation and no doubt the next generation will be very tech dependent, too easily bored to look at boring layouts, and not to mention moving from day to day without a second thought of what happened yesterday, so the journalism game must keep up with the times (I much prefer my news simple, coming from someone wearing a fedora with a piece of paper reading PRESS stuck in it’s brim, jotting the news on a notepad with a pen but what can you do?). Jamie then told me an insider secret (well, not really a secret I guess if they’re teaching people about it), which is called the inverted pyramid. The Inverted pyramid has tiers of how important and how much information should be at the top of your article and as it decreases to the end with the more fluffier news to fill space. According to Jamie the first two to three paragraphs is all you really need to read if you wanted to get the main news in that specific article, the rest is important, yes, but only necessary as detail and information to further accentuate the news at hand. I decided to test it out, you, the reader, should too. It’s quite extraordinary to just read the first couple of sentences and know the news but is it really knowing the news? Maybe this is why the inverted pyramid isn’t taught to the public, so they would actually read the entire article. As Jamie so neatly said, “modern journalism is a two way street” in which the journalist job is to get you the truth and the facts but it’s up to the public to have the curiosity to read and make sure they’re fully informed. Or the worst will happen and we’ll end up getting articles that are three sentences long like this, “Apple Inc. is taking people’s souls. Apple Inc. announced they do not care about public backlash. To avoid this from happening, do not sign Apple Inc. contracts.” See, you get all the news but you don’t get the “why” and the “how” of the news.
As we continued to speak, I disclose to her that in a way, she and a pen pal of mine (also a journalism major) influenced me to start this blog because journalism was always an interest of mine but it one of those things that gets pushed all the way to the back, right into the corner nook of my brain that until when someone reminds me of it, it likes to just nags at me until I do something about it (it’s exactly like that one time when I was watching a commercial about Toaster Strudels, you know that commercial that says Warm…Flaky…Gooey…Toaster Strudel, now with more icing, because damn right we need more icing. Anyways, yeah, I totally ate Toaster Strudels that same day because of that commercial). Jamie said that it was amazing that I said she was an inspiration, and she was being very humble (no sarcasm) when she told me she had had others tell her the same thing. So the topic then turns to inspiration and how we as people inspires others. It’s an amazing effect that we have on each other, to inspire the people around us to do great things without knowing it and at the same time it can produce awful, awful results. But of course, I would be the one to bring up that point during our conversation, the sometimes awfulness of us human beings just like how when the news lies about the weather for the next day and I can’t trust any of my local meteorologist anymore. Just then, Jamie proposed an idea, that everyone should be a journalist, not in the traditional sense (fedora and all) but to be a journalist that collects news, watches out for their community, and to be a positive but most importantly an active voice in their own society which might just influence our society. To that I say, what an idea, what a wonderful idea.