The critical role of journalists

As a journalism student at CVHS I am often given superb opportunities. Recently I was able to go to Sacramento, and listen to several different speakers hosted by the California Newspaper

Publishers Association. As a journalist I learned something that I had not yet been able to realize so far in my experiences.

I realized just how profoundly and incredibly important journalists, newspapers, and news reports are to society, and just how hard it sometimes is to get stories out. Not to say that I had thought we were completely insignificant to society before, but I finally was able to acknowledge just how much of an impact that I, as a journalist, have.

The speakers included two Democratic politicians and two Republican politicians. The day began with some key points from Assembly Speaker John Pèrez and then a short talk from Senate

President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, both of whom made sure to emphasize the importance of education in this budget crisis. The two Republican speakers were Assembly Republican

Leader Connie Conway and Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff.

While I very much liked the Democrats’ speeches, I wasn’t in favor in those from the Republicans. I’m not saying this because I am biased towards Democrats; I honestly did not like what the Republicans had to say. I felt as though Conway didn’t really say much of anything. She talked about her personal life too much and didn’t address any important issues. She was very defensive and stressed that the current budget crisis was the fault of the Democrats. Huff, on the other hand, stressed how important STAR testing was for students.

After the speeches, there was a moment for the attendees to ask questions.  Olympian staff writer Kate Pellegrini asked Huff what he thought about the current education predicament and he completely ignored her question. He beat around the figurative bush, rambling on about something, but still not answering what Pellegrini asked. Olympian advisor Matt Johanson asked

Huff why he felt STAR tests were important. Huff talked about everything that had to do with STAR tests except for why he felt they were important.

We also got to talk to Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett and Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi.

Talking to Corbett was absolutely amazing. Everything she said was incredibly sincere and she even let us into her life by telling us about herself and her son. She even knew about the things going on at CVHS. She went on to tell us that she is “an East Bay girl.” She gave us information on bills pertaining to education and others that teens could relate to. Every question we asked was answered with a clear and thoroughly informative answer. Corbett is an amazing interviewee; if only they could all be as informative and warm.

The drastic differences between Corbett and Hayashi were quite clear. Last year Hayashi was arrested for shoplifting in San Francisco at Neiman Marcus and later pleaded no contest. It was later reported that she had a brain tumor and that that may have been the reason for thievery. As journalists, we were of course very curious about the entire predicament and wanted to ask her about it. However, we also know that journalists do not ask hard questions first. We began by asking her what bills she had passed pertaining to education. Staff writer Jane Hong posed the question in a very articulate and well-mannered way, but it didn’t seem to get through to Hayashi. She stopped Hong to ask how each of us were and why we were interested in journalism. She continued to ask, “what are those little notepads” that we had.

When we returned to Hong’s question, she scolded Hong, saying that the question was worded too broadly (it wasn’t). She then continued to talk about one thing and one thing only, a bill that she had passed to make sure that athletes with concussions got the care and rest they needed; in response to each question, she reverted to talking about the concussion bill. The interview was awkward and uninformative. It ended when she rushed out of her office, because she had already “changed her schedule for us.”

The avoidance of answers from the Republican speakers and the oddball interview with Hayashi showed me just how important it is for a journalist to get a story out to the masses and how important it is to ask and ask until you get the vital information so that you can supply the people with what they need to know. As journalists it is our job to get the story right no matter what. This is not always easy, as we learned.

One thought on “The critical role of journalists

  • February 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    So, you didn’t think it was important to write down what Assembly Republican Leader Conway told you about the budget and how it pertained to education? You didn’t think it wise to report that no Republican supported the Democrat budget because they knew it would blow a giant hole in the education budget? It wasn’t important enough for you to understand that this budget that the Democrats crafted without any Republican input, over Republican objections, resulted in a $1 billion trigger cut to education funding last December? What is important to you then? What they say and promise? Or what they do?

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