Ethnic News Service
Cristina L. Azocar, Ph.D., Director, Center for Integration
and Improvement of Journalism (CIIJ), San Francisco State UniversitySan Francisco
Ethnic News Service
CIIJ, San Francisco State Univ.
Humanities 307, 1600 Holloway Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94132
The center plans to create a new student-run Ethnic News Service to help provide better coverage of public affairs for the state’s 700 ethnic media outlets. CIIJ will “embed” SFSU students within community organizations to develop a series of multimedia stories on the impact of policy decisions on ethnic communities. Stories will be posted on the CIIJ website, and CIIJ will work with New American Media to help distribute them.
Check back for future news and updates.
• End of Year Two: October 2008
• End of Year One: November 2007
• Spring 2007
• November 2006
• August 2006
Bay Voices Amplifies the Lives of Youth of Color
End of Year Two: October 2008
The Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University wanted to launch a new, student-run Ethnic News Service. The goal was help diverse ethnic media outlets improve their coverage of public policy issues and their impact on local ethnic communities. Journalism professor Jon Funabiki admits the project’s website had a false start. “The original one that was developed just didn’t work for either faculty or students.” So, the Ethnic News Service went back to the drawing board and brought in the school’s online instructor to develop a content management system and website. Once complete, they began populating the Bay Voices site with student content in April and May 2008.
Tony Matsuda was held in an internment camp during WWII. He is interviewed in the video, “Transcending Generations.”
Bay Voices initially engaged students enrolled in an undergraduate Ethnic Media course, but later pulled in people and content from two other local youth programs, the Bay Area Multicultural Media Academy and Prime Movers, which pairs veteran journalists with high school students interested in journalism. The content from these participants helped keep the site fresh over the summer months.
“We are most proud that students continue to enroll in the class because they view it as a place to publish their important stories from communities that may not be published in other places,” says Cristina Azocar, the project director.
Participants appreciate the attention the project has brought to issues that might fall below the media radar. “Many of the stories from our high school writers may not seem relevant to older readers. But in this era of seeking to bring youth eyes to news media, we can use their stories as templates of relevance.”
For example, Azocar points to two stories about undocumented immigrants, one about the impact of tuition fee laws on non-citizen students who want to go to college, the other on the particular experience of female day laborers.
Getting hands-on experience with ethnic community reporting has helped students broaden their perspective and gain exposure to the cultural diversity of the Bay Area.
“Reporting within minority communities which you are not a part of is challenging and rewarding,” commented one student in a class evaluation. Another wrote, “I learned the importance of the bond within a community. I also learned a lot about the history of the Mission District.” And, “I learned how ethnic media is different than mainstream media. I learned it’s a better choice for me in terms of a career choice. I also learned how a small publication worked.”
Students enrolled in the fall 2008 Ethnic News course will be expected to jump right in and get busy getting to know ethnic communities and posting stories to the site more quickly. At the start they will be assigned to:
- Identify top 10 issues in the Mission neighborhood.
- Identify 50 community leaders.
- Identify 25 “hotspots” for a map.
- Create profile of the Mission district.
The Ethnic News Service is still largely unknown in the Bay Area, but CIIJ is planning to continue its work to create more content and later move forward with a marketing plan to attract paid subscriptions from a goal of 25 percent of local ethnic media outlets by 2010.
Azocar says one of the best ways to engage communities is by working directly with ethnic media outlets. CIIJ is partnering with El Tecolote, the oldest bi-lingual Spanish newspaper in San Francisco, and is exploring partnerships with other ethnic press.
Ethnic News Service: Still Buffering
End of Year One: November 2007
During spring semester 2007, 13 advanced journalism students (including four photographers) enrolled in San Francisco State’s Ethnic News Service course. After learning about the role of ethnic news media in a democratic society, the students were assigned to complete four stories, including features and profiles about community leaders, such as the San Francisco Foundation’s Koshland Fellows.
Ethnic News Service students have also been producing more multimedia work. Field trips to the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) offered training on capturing and editing video.
CIIJ continues to work with New America Media on how to incorporate ENS content on their site its well.
“This is one of the most exciting projects that CIIJ has been engaged in,” says project leader Cristina Azocar. “But, new hurdles come up each week. So now, our constituents are looking forward to our official launch now pushed back until the winter semester (2008) because of website issues.”
Azocar says meeting other New Voices recipients and hearing about their projects has been a source of creative ideas. Some that she intends to test out on the Ethnic News Service site include:
- Sell ads on Google to promote site.
- Give a prize for best story.
- Assign co-authored pieces with members of the community.
- Start a class blog.
- Add community bloggers on the site.
- Produce an ENS manual - 20 steps of community journalism.
- Distribute Bay Area Multicultural Media Academy (BAMMA) students stories on ENS.
- Have students repackage AP stories for ethnic news service.
- Rework the CIIJ coaching program so students get coaching from ethnic news media staff.
Still, official launch of a website has been delayed while the project reworked its design and functioning. Professors Jon Funabiki and Azocar are working with a few local foundations to develop a site using mapping technologies and to make plans for the Ethnic News Service when New Voices funding is over. The ENS recently received a $30,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.
Seeking Untold Stories in San Francisco’s Ethnic Communities
San Francisco State University journalism students continued reporting stories for the Ethnic News Service although not all stories were posted to the website pending a new redesign.
Students were assigned to cover the city’s ethnic communities with assignments such as this:
“Far-reaching public policy stories can be found at the grassroots level. But these stories are often unreported because of the lack of knowledge about the non-profit organizations working on them. Your assignment is to find one of these stories by profiling a grassroots organization using a story as the entry-point.”
Project leader Cristina Azocar, director of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, said one of her favorite reports was a video story done by a young student who had been raped and subsequently had an abortion after discovering she was pregnant.
“She had a large family support network to help her, but wondered in her video how those who didn’t have that support got help. What if you don’t speak English? What if you’re an undocumented immigrant?” Azocar said. “She found a young Latina who had been raped to talk on tape about her experience and how San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR) helped.”
ENS continued to struggle with its website. “We realized that our site must have the capabilities of both a Web-based wire service and a classroom management tool,” Azocar writes. “Therefore, we are discontinuing the use of the site while the classroom issues are worked out further.”
CIIJ and San Francisco State University planned to wait until the end of the semester to upload publishable student work to the website. In the meantime, they were partnering with local foundations, such as Community Technology Fund and the San Francisco Foundation, to develop a site using mapping technologies instead of the content management system they are currently using.
Professor Jon Funabiki, who taught the spring “Ethnic News Service” course, has worked out a collaboration with the Bay Area Video Coalition to use their resources. Azocar said students would visit the Coalition’s offices to learn how to use their multimedia equipment. BAVC will provide students with a mini-video recorder to practice “pocket journalism.”
A goal of the class is “to develop journalistic coverage about communities and community leaders, grassroots organizations and issues, and to present news coverage in a variety of formats including text, visual journalism, [and] multimedia,” Azocar reported. The project plans to produce maps that will allow editors to look for stories based on particular demographics, such as language groups.
“[We] need to make sure the next generation of journalists are culturally competent,” Azocar told fellow New Voices grantees at a meeting in early March.
The class has sparked interest from other areas of the university. Azocar said that a faculty member teaching in the Masters in Social Work program has expressed interest in working on ethnographies with the reporters in the class to develop the stories. University librarians have also said they would like to help coordinate an archive of the materials on the ENS website so it could serve as a web archive on community leadership and issues.”
Students Reporting for Ethnic News Service
The Ethnic News Service is building up to an official launch in fall 2007. The site, ens.ciij.org, is filled with stories by San Francisco State University students who are participating in the project, run by the school’s Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism.
Last semester, students in the Cultural Diversity and U.S. Journalism course, taught by CIIJ Director Cristina Azocar and Professor Jon Funabiki, wrote stories and created cartoons and multimedia projects for the site. The first assignment was to write profiles of ethnic media outlets or explore the media habits of certain groups of people. The profiles provided feedback on what types of stories the media outlets would like to see in the service, which will produce content for Bay Area ethnic media and eventually California’s 700 ethnic news outlets. Those profiles will be used in the future, becoming part of a database to which subsequent classes can refer. Student stories also explored election issues, religious traditions and grassroots organizations.
In the spring semester, Funabiki is teaching the course, renamed Ethnic News Service, to 31 students, half of whom are journalism majors and half are studying other disciplines, such as cinema, sociology, broadcast and electronic arts, and creative writing.
SFSU students also continued their work with high school students who will create a special insert to be published in El Tecolote, a San Francisco bilingual newspaper, in February. Two university students, a writer and a photographer, are working with the class at least twice a week. Stories from the insert will be posted to the ENS site as well.
“The site is up and functioning with many problems,” Azocar writes in an e-mail to J-Lab. “What we’re running into is student[s] producing stories in different mediums and attempting to figure out the best way to ‘display’ stories so that they are user friendly for the ethnic media.” Videos, for instance, are posted on YouTube, with URLs to them on the ENS site.
To gear up for the launch, ENS will run an ad in various ethnic media outlets and work with New America Media, a news wire and association of ethnic news media, to spread the word.
Ethnic News Service Finds Partners in Preparation for Launch
The early work on the Ethnic News Service, which helps cover public affairs of California’s 700 ethnic news outlets, has been all about the infrastructure. Programming bugs are being worked out, but the ENS site is operating, with a number of student-produced stories, photos, cartoons and videos.
The Ethnic News Service is a project of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, housed at San Francisco State University. It has received plenty of input from academics and ethnic and mainstream news organizations interested in teaming up with ENS. Articles and other content will be posted on the ENS site, as well as distributed by New American Media’s ethnic news wire. Dan Rosenheim, vice president and news director of the Bay Area’s CBS 5, asked if the news service would be available to traditional media, pointing out that they would greatly benefit from ethnic coverage.
CIIJ Director Cristina Azocar says ENS will be open to such outlets, but the articles will focus on specific small communities. “We think they will probably use it for story ideas more than using the actual stories,” she says.
This summer, a programmer and designer built the content management system for ENS. The goal was to create a site that would last beyond the grant money, so a “pay to subscribe” function was added. By mid-August, news templates designed by Professor Andrew DeVigal were being tested on the site.
ENS got an early jump on creating content through CIIJ’s Bay Area Multicultural Media Academy, a two-week program in late June in which 15 area teenagers published the SFSU summer newspaper and created articles, photos and multimedia projects. Their stories are a part of ENS, but the real power behind the project comes from students in the department of journalism’s Cultural Diversity and U.S. Journalism course. Taught by Azocar, the fall class has 68 students and will be renamed Ethnic News Service in the spring semester.
Their stories have included coverage of a teen who recently emigrated from war-torn Sudan, an event for Muslim youth in the Bay Area, and a survey of how people from different cultural backgrounds get their news.
“We are completely impressed with the creativity of the students enrolled in the college class,” Azocar writes in an e-mail, noting that half of them are not journalism majors. That mix has led to very interesting discussions, she says. “Additionally, we have had many speakers especially through New America Media for almost every session. Students therefore get exposed to professional journalists working for ethnic media outlets as well as media activists and advocates.”
Another aspect of the project, Prime Movers, was launched this fall, bringing together the bilingual El Tecolote newspaper in San Francisco’s Mission District, SFSU students and high school students from the International Studies Academy. Together, they are working on articles that will be published in an insert in a January edition of El Tecolote. Those ISA student stories will also be a part of ENS’ teen voices category.
As ENS moves forward, it has the added financial support of the Ford Foundation, which awarded a $30,000 grant to the project in July.
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