San Francisco State UniversityA-ZSearchCalendarNeed help?News

SF State News
SF State News Home
SFSU in the News
Events Calendar
Gator Sports News

Expert commentary
Expert Commentary 1
Expert Commentary 2
Expert Commentary 3

For Journalists
News Releases
Faculty Experts
Public Affairs Staff

For Faculty
Submit a News Item
Be an Expert Source
Working with the  Media

SFSU Publications
SFSU Magazine

Public Affairs

Diversifying media: journalism center looks ahead

March 17, 2004

Photo of Anh Chu of Oakland High School and Connie Ng of Lincoln High. The two young women participated in CIIJ's 2003 Bay Area Multicultural AcademySince 1990 SFSU's Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism (CIIJ) has helped change the face of newsrooms across the country by introducing about 10,000 minority youth, college students and professionals to the exhilaration of a career in reporting. Now, armed with a $400,000, two-year grant from the Ford Foundation, the center can plan its future.

For years, the journalism industry has struggled to meet the American Society of Newspaper Editors' (ASNE) goal that the ethnic makeup of reporters and editors reflect the U.S. population. Today, people of color represent less than 13 percent of newsroom staff; people of color comprise about 31 percent of the U.S. population, according to ASNE.

The only program of its kind in the West and the most extensive in the country, CIIJ has served about 10,000 people throughout its existence.

For SFSU journalism students, CIIJ offers one-on-one coaching from professional reporters and photojournalists and provides services for job and internship opportunities at major newspapers throughout the country.

A John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant has enabled the center to help other colleges develop similar coaching programs. To interest underrepresented high-school students in journalism, the center offers a free two-week summer academy and hosts journalism fairs that draw 350 to 400 Northern California teenagers to campus.

The Ford Foundation has donated more than $2.3 million to the center during the last 14 years. The latest grant will be used to conduct an extensive strategic planning effort. CIIJ Director Cristina L. Azocar said such an effort is necessary due to the evolving needs of the newspaper industry and the needs of transfer students, who make up 70 percent of all journalism students at SFSU.

Jose Antonio Vargas attended CIIJ's summer journalism academy in 1998 when he was a high school student. Now an SFSU senior, he already has several years of experience as an editorial assistant and reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and will join the Washington Post as a reporter in June, after he graduates.

"I credit the (summer) program-- and CIIJ -- for jump-starting my journalism career," said Vargas, a political science major. "The news industry, as I'm sure you know, is in desperate need of minority voices, and I think what CIIJ did was provide me with the foundation to be a competent and responsible journalist. More importantly, though, the folks there gave me confidence."

Azocar credits CIIJ's programs for increasing the number of SFSU journalism students of color. Since 1997 people of color have comprised the majority of all SFSU journalism students. In addition, Azocar said they are earning good grades, graduating and pursuing professional careers in journalism at higher rates than ever before.

Newspapers from across the country, including The New York Times and Washington Post, come to SFSU each year to recruit students due in part to the department's diversity. Three student photographers and one student reporter have been awarded internships at The New York Times in the past four years alone.

Azocar has benefited from CIIJ herself, being involved since her days as an SFSU student. Without it, Azocar said she would have felt "directionless" and likely changed her major. She completed her journalism degree in 1993 and later earned a master's degree in ethnic studies from SFSU and a doctorate in communication studies from University of Michigan.

Jon Funabiki, CIIJ's first director who is now deputy director of the Media, Arts and Culture Program for the Ford Foundation, helped secure the recent grant.

"Today, the center is faced with the questions of what's that special niche to play, how do you make the most of its relationship to the university and the profession, and what will its future funding mix be," he said.

-- Matt Itelson


San Francisco State University

Home     Search     Need Help?    

1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132    (415) 338-1111
Last modified July 27, 2004 by University Communications