For my Social Science Scholar project, I completed a journalism certificate at UC Berkeley. The university has one of the best journalism programs in the country. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I wasn’t able to live in Berkeley while completing my studies, but doing it over zoom wasn’t all that bad. I was living on the west coast over the summer, so the time difference wasn’t as big of a deal as it would have been if I’d been on the east coast. I completed five courses over the summer; one in the first six weeks, which started at the end of May, and four during the following six weeks through mid-August. I had two introductory courses in news writing and reporting and multimedia techniques. I chose environmental reporting, investigative reporting and international reporting as my electives.
My introductory news writing and reporting class was probably my favorite. I was very excited to receive the foundation I needed to actually start reporting and writing stories. We met every Monday through Thursday for two hours, which got a little tiring toward the end of the class, but my professor kept all of us really engaged with stories about his own experiences and a ton of guest lectures from working reporters. My professor for that class actually graduated from Florida State in the early 2000s and moved to California to work for the LA Times shortly after. It was nice to have a fellow Floridian in a zoom filled with Californians.
My favorite guest lecturer to attend that class was Katie Benner, a justice reporter at the New York Times. We seemed to have a lot in common. She also graduated from a school that didn’t have a journalism program, but she didn’t let that stop her. She found a different path into the field. She was candid about how difficult it was, which was something I really appreciated. She was also very down-to-earth. I think reporters for publications like the New York Times have a reputation for being elitist, but she didn’t come off that way at all. She also talked about her experience being a business and economics reporter and her transition to reporting on the courts which was fascinating. I was under the impression that reporters cover the same beats their entire careers, and they can, but it’s also pretty easy to change beats because reporting skills should be transferable. Reporters also don’t need to be experts on the subjects they cover, they just need to be curious. It’s their job to ask questions and to give the public clear and digestible information. She really solidified my decision to pursue journalism as a career.
I came away from the program with a solid foundation in news writing and reporting and an introductory knowledge of investigative and multimedia techniques. They are skills young reporters are pretty much expected to have to get an entry-level job in the field. In my elective courses, I learned how to report on specific subjects like the environment. I’m convinced that what I accomplished this summer is what led me to get my internship at WFSU News this fall.
Chelsea is a senior from Palm Bay, Fla., pursuing a dual degree in political science and Middle Eastern studies. Her scholarly interests include economic, political and social development and media studies. She has interned with the International Rescue Committee, an organization that resettles refugees in the Tallahassee area, and has continued her involvement with the organization as a tutor with its Youth Mentorship Program. Chelsea serves as president of Students for Justice in Palestine. As a social justice advocate, she is also a public policy and legislative intern with the Children’s Campaign, an organization advocating for children’s rights in Florida. This semester, she is conducting independent research on 20th century development in the Middle East. After graduation, she wants to earn dual master’s degrees in international development policy and media studies.