New program provides paid pathway for aspiring journalists of color

Two students looking into three cameras at the Fresno State Focus anchor desk in the Frenso State television studio.

“Newsrooms throughout the United States are far less diverse than the overall workforce, which means they often do not reflect the communities they serve. This impacts which stories are covered, how stories are covered, and which stories are ignored. And concerns about newsroom diversity are only intensifying as the demographics of the Valley evolve,” Dr. Kathleen Schock, journalism instructor at Fresno City College and host of Valley Edition at Valley Public Radio, said.

In September, The Institute for Media and Public Trust at Fresno State announced the Central Valley Journalists of Color program’s creation. Their goal is to increase diversity, particularly under-represented Black journalists, in San Joaquin Valley Newsrooms. 

Jim Boren, executive director of the Institute for Media and Public Trust

“I had been thinking about such a program when I was at The Fresno Bee, and the Institute gave me a platform to create it. I’m so pleased that donors have stepped up to help. They see the need and want to invest in our community,” said Jim Boren, executive director of the Institute for Media and Public Trust.

The program will offer students a five-year pathway to a journalism degree that includes mentorship and hands-on job training as part of the experience. The ultimate goal is employment at local media outlets. 

“This program is designed to tackle the problem by building a pipeline of skilled, well-educated and experienced young journalists of color that will have a lasting impact on Central Valley newsrooms,” Schock explained. 

Dr. Kathleen Schock, journalism instructor at Fresno City College and host of Valley Edition at Valley Public Radio
Dr. Kathleen Schock, journalism instructor at Fresno City College and host of Valley Edition at Valley Public Radio

The program begins as students apply in the Fall as high school seniors. After a cohort is chosen, the students will attend regular workshops, meet with academic counselors to prepare them for college and be assigned a mentor who will advise them throughout the program. 

“This program hopes to recruit the students while they are still very young and supports them through college while exposing them to experiences in the news media field. They will be mentored and guided through their training and first years in the field,” said Dr. Dympna Ugwu-Oju, editor of the Fresnoland Lab at the Fresno Bee and former journalism instructor and adviser to the student publications at Fresno City College.

Dr. Dympna Ugwu-Oju, editor of the Fresnoland Lab at the Fresno Bee
Dr. Dympna Ugwu-Oju, editor of the Fresnoland Lab at the Fresno Bee

Students can begin the program at Fresno City College before transferring to Fresno State or complete all five years at Fresno State. Throughout the five-year track, the students will work with The kNOw Youth Media to gain professional experience and be paid $300 per month for nine months each academic year. 

“As members of the program, youth will participate in weekly editorial meetings and training with other youth reporters from The kNOw, as well as in the outside training and mentorships that the Journalists of Color program will offer,” explained Kody Stoebig, program manager for The kNOw Youth Media, a program of Youth Leadership Institute.

Kody Stoebig, program manager for The kNOw Youth Media
Kody Stoebig, program manager for The kNOw Youth Media

Applying seniors are not required to have any previous experience. They just need a desire to be a journalist. 

As Stoebig explains, “Don’t be afraid if you think you’re not a strong writer or if you don’t have any experience with news. This program is designed for newcomers who are interested in writing about their communities and sharing their stories! We’ll help you gain the technical skills. We just need you and your voice.”

High school seniors who are interested are encouraged to apply by filling out the application form online.

The program’s steering meeting includes Jim Boren, executive director of the Institute for Media and Public Trust and a journalism lecturer at Fresno State; Kathleen Schock, journalism instructor at Fresno City College and host of Valley Edition on Valley Public Radio; Dr. Dympna Ugwu-Oju, editor of the Fresnoland Lab at The Fresno Bee; Dr. Bradley Hart, associate professor in Fresno State’s MCJ Department; Kody Stoebig, program manager for The kNOw Youth Media; and Tim Haydock, director of communications for the Youth Leadership Institute.

The program is funded with grants from the James B. McClatchy Foundation, The California Endowment, and generous community donors like you.

To contribute to this program online, visit Fresno State’s secure online donation form, click the “View All Giving Opportunities” button and select “Other.” Write in “Institute for Media & Public Trust” and put in your amount, then follow the remaining instructions. 

To send a check:

  1. Make it out to the Fresno State Foundation.
  2. In the memo line, designate the donation for the Institute for Media and Public Trust.
  3. Mail checks to College of Arts & Humanities at Fresno State, Development Office, 2380 E. Keats Ave. M/S MB99, Fresno, CA 93740-8024

Posted by

Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Communication Specialist

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