By Jesse Garcia
Photo Credit: Kyle Umeda
World Press Freedom Day at California State University, Dominguez Hills is now behind us, and as the president of the Society of Independent Student Journalists, I can honestly say it was a success.
The event, which was two semesters in the making, sought to bring professional insight from working journalists about world press freedom and the importance of holding our government and other institutions of power accountable.
Three well-established journalists made up the panel for the event: Ruben Vives, a general assignment reporter for The Los Angeles Times; Melissa Etehad, an LA Times reporter; and Megan Garvey, currently managing editor for Southern California Public Radio. The moderator for the panel was CSUDH communications professor, Dr. Brant Burkey.
After months of planning, preparing, and back and forth talks with our guest speaker, the discussion was heard and the insights gained by CSUDH students who attended was priceless.
Garvey, the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for the 2004 California wildfires and the 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, shared her experiences of local press freedom and lack thereof in some areas.
Vives, also a Pulitzer Prize winner for helping uncover the financial corruption in the city of Bell that led to criminal charges of eight city official, talked about how just how important being able to ask questions and keep pulling at a thread is.
Etehad, who dubbed herself the “newbie” in the panel, also contributed her fair share of experiences. Working overseas in Syria she discussed how important press freedoms such as carrying a camera around and taking pictures as journalists, things we take for granted, are not allowed.
Dr. Burkey seamlessly kept the discussion going between the panelists and asked follow-up questions to give context to certain investigative cases the panelists referred to from time to time. The panel members enthusiastically talked to students and each other about press freedoms for a little over an hour before opening up questions to the audience.
This was the first time the Society of Independent Student Journalist hosted a World Press Freedom event and we are hoping to continue it annually.