“They admire you or they hate you.” That used to be a common phrase at the newsroom during my year as a journalism intern at the now 127-year-old newspaper Listín Diario. It was a worthy, challenging, dangerous career. And, at the oldest outlet of the Dominican Republic it was the place where only the best-of-the-best could thrive to become and print their words on a sheet to be sold to 10 million inhabitants.
It was also a #JournalismSoMale that none of the digital or print outlets I applied to gave me the opportunity to continue developing my skills, after I won my first National Journalism Award at age 23. It was too much to handle, even for the paper I earned my award from. That was back in 2013.
This past week, Pulitzer Prize-winner José Antonio Vargas pulled out the #JournalismSoWhite hashtag that opened an online conversation to keep journalist accountable of themselves. It evidences the diversity problem that affects the American journalism industry. For a poynter.org post written by Kristen Hare he shared: “In my opinion, the defining causes of disruption in the news industry (particularly in newspapers) in the past 20 years are technological and demographic. And, in various ways, most news organizations have failed in fully addressing both.”
On January 25, Research Fellow Clare Wardle wrote on The Huffington Post that she considers Social Media as the “Great Disrupter” of the news industry, in terms of the discovering, visual content sourcing and the distribution of our stories. “Social Media skills are no longer considered niche in journalism – instead they impact how an entire news organization is run.”
As we attempt to keep track of the fast-paced tech shifts that shape journalism as an occupation, media outlets have lost interest in their journalist’s knowledge and professional performance due to reimbursing adaptation expenses and financial matters.
Now frivolity describes our career, as the public opinion is driven by entertainment and new so called “journalists” walk up the ladder because they know how to use SnapChat or have the chance to “put out” the source, like Sean Penn and his no-named producers did with Kate del Castillo and Joaquín -El Chapo- Guzmán Loera.
After I graduated, finished my national print internship and earned my award, a local radio station gave me a 2-hour spot to replace the senior host who had left the noon news reel. The Programming Director was a colleague of mine; we studied together. I could not make ends meet by the end of the month. So, I left my passion for journalism and when to make money as a content developer for Centro León, a one-of-a-kind museum in the Caribbean. I could not do it, so I left the land that raised me.
I came back to the United States to rethink journalism and demonstrate that we can reinvent and diversify this career, focusing on transparency, committing to common welfare and molding sustainable lifestyles, based on knowledge and hands-on experience. I am here in New York City because I want to be the best Latina, the best Dominican-American, the best scientific journalist I know I can be.
Essay written to apply for the Knight-CUNYJ Summer Internship 2016.