WPSPJ awards
WPSPJ president Angelica Amegashie, graduate student liaison Beatrice Amune, member Diana Kochaha, adviser Dr. Nick Hirshon, secretary Andrew Herbst, vice president Rochelle Estrada, and treasurer Angela Amegashie at the William Paterson University Student Leadership Awards in 2023.

597. J-school students express hope, concern for journalism’s future

Journalism school isn’t just about learning how to take great notes, write compelling ledes and headlines or understanding the latest online tools for researching and sharing stories. 

Students in William Paterson University‘s Department of Communications are gaining all those skills and more, taking trips to the United Nations, TV studios, going behind the scenes of MLB Network studios and honing their writing abilities while making strong professional connections that could serve them well in the future. 

Angelica Amegashie, Andrew Herbst and Beatrice Amune are members of the New Jersey school’s chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists, which named their chapter the Chapter of the Year. Angelica and Beatrice are international students, from Ghana and Nigeria, respectively, while Andrew is from nearby in New Jersey, but they all credit the club, and their faculty adviser Nick Hirshon, a previous It’s All Journalism guest, with helping them build important skills and furthering their interests in the industry. 

Angelica says she became more interested in journalistic writing as a direct result of Hirshon’s classes, helping her “look at writing from a different perspective. I wanted to (write) in a manner that’s truthful and not biased.” 

Andrew always thought about being a journalist, but he had his sights set on broadcast. “I always loved writing and sports, I grew up reading papers, it’s always been a passion and I always wanted to turn it into a career.”

WPSPJ-adviser Dr. Hirshon, vice-president Rochelle Estrada; secretary Andrew-Herbst, and-grad-liaison Beatrice Amune on 1010 WINS tour in November 2022.

Beatrice, on the other hand, came into college as a public relations major and earned her master’s degree in professional communication. “My interest in journalism started when I met Dr. Hirshon, the advisor for SPJ.” Now she’s considering a career in journalism because “as we all know, journalists act as a watchdog of society, to hold government officials accountable and create a historical record of events to document the issues, the shift of society.” 

They know the world of journalism is much different now than it was even just a few years ago and that the industry is going through a difficult time. They are undeterred. 

“I hope that there will be more trust for journalists,” Beatrice says. “Right now, one of the challenges journalists face is the lack of trust, declining public trust. I know the next generation of journalists will have to build trust with the public. I hope this generation is able to do that. I also hope there will be more diversity in the field of journalism. I believe that’s also one of the problems facing the field, the lack of diversity in the newsroom, which leads to a lack of representation and coverage. That’s something I care a lot about.” 

Andrew, who has cerebral palsy, wants to see more diversity in newsrooms as well, elevating the profile and stories of people with disabilities. “I feel like people with disabilities are ignored,” he says. “I think people with disabilities have a voice to share. I wish there could be more people with disabilities in journalism because I think people with disabilities have a viewpoint that needs to be shared.” 

Angelica, who has recently served in a leadership role with the student-run SPJ chapter, simply wants to see better sourcing and attribution in reporting. “As the world progresses every day, we learn something new. Every day we’re put in situations where we understand that tolerance and respect is the most important thing. If we’re covering stories we’re not interested in, we need to be able to look at it from an open-minded and inquisitive perspective, to learn from the people whose stories we’re telling. If we cannot learn from them, we might as well not cover those stories. It’s all about being interested and invested.” 

Angelica Amegashie, Andrew Herbst, and Beatrice Amune are members of the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at William Paterson University. The chapter was recently named SPJ’s chapter of the year. 

Allison Taylor-Levine

625. Community collaboration key to evolving local journalism

Allison Taylor Levine, CEO of Local Journalism Initiative, discusses how LJI’s Delaware Journalism Collaborative, which has brought more than 25 partners throughout the state together to report on polarization and possible solutions, strengthens local journalism in Delaware and our democracy.

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