Journalism students received an inside look at modern professional journalism from two award-winning journalists at the “Journalism in a High-Tech World” event Feb. 18 on campus.
Columbia University graduate Ericka Blount Danois and Columbia University Journalism Professor Samuel G. Freedman spoke to about 40 City College and Cosumnes College journalism students and faculty in the Cultural Awareness Center.
“There was so much I didn’t know,” said Danois while speaking about the early stages of her career working for then-new hip-hop magazines such as The Source, interviewing influential hip-hop artists such as Notorious B.I.G. and L.L. Cool J. She recently published her first book, “Love, Peace, and Soul: Behind the Scenes of America’s Favorite Dance Show,” about the long-running televised “Soul Train.”
“Ericka is everything I aspire to be,” said journalism student Elasha Young, who actively participated in the question-and-answer session. “She’s phenomenal.”
Danois attended Columbia University and said she learned about the nuts-and-bolts of journalism from her then-professor Freedman. Freedman has authored seven published books, the most recent of which is “Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights.”
Freedman said the state of the economy and the change in the economic models that support today’s journalists has many of his students questioning their choice in majors.
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you made a mistake by going into journalism,” said Freedman. “Always do the thing you love, and don’t believe the hype about the news industry.”
Cultural Awareness Center Coordinator Victoria Henderson organized the event especially for journalism students and faculty.
Danois and Freedman were traveling from the East Coast to present a talk titled “The Civil Rights Movement and Popular Culture” in honor of Black History Month. Henderson said she saw the opportunity to give journalism students a chance to gain insight on Danois and Freeman’s success.
“I thought it was important for journalism students to meet them and hear their story,” said Henderson.
Through a series of emails, Henderson convinced both speakers to arrive on campus early and discuss their career histories through an informal question-and-answer session before their evening presentation.
Danois and Freedman spoke later in the evening about their books and the Civil Rights movement.