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"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

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Emerging Journalist Fellows at El Camino College Win Top Media Prize for Coastal Erosion Series

This piece is part of a series covering the work of the 2023 Emerging Journalist Fellows.

Four people smile and pose for the camera
Left to right: Students Kim McGill and Khoury Williams, journalism advisor Jessica Martinez, and student Ethan Cohen.

Congratulations to the 2023 Emerging Journalist Fellowship team at El Camino College in Torrance, California, who recently won first place for best news package and best special section from two-year colleges from the College Media Association (CMA).

Awards image, for Best Special Section/Four Pages of Less for the El Camino Collage EJF team
Awards image, for Best News Section for the El Camino Collage EJF team
Founded in 1954 as the National Council of College Publications Advisers, CMA now has more than 600 members nationally. It supports both new and veteran advisers of collegiate media programs with conventions, workshops, publications, and national networking. Its Pinnacles awards program honors the best college media organizations and individual work through each academic year.

Produced by journalist fellows with El Camino’s student-run news organization The Union, On Cliff’s Edge is a series of stories on California’s growing problem of coastal erosion in Los Angeles County due to climate change. Led by instructional assistant Jessica Martinez, the winning team includes student journalists Ethan Cohen, Kim McGill, and Khoury Williams.

Martinez submitted an application in December 2022 to California Humanities’ Emerging Journalist Fellowship Program to support project work during the spring 2023 semester, and El Camino became one of nine California community colleges to be selected, receiving $15,000 to help fund services and resources.

“The fellowship gave our students the opportunity to do real community reporting on an important topic alongside many professional journalists,” she said. They had to go outside their comfort zone—the college campus—and contact experts and sources in the field as any other professional journalist would to report this story. I know these three students feel more confident with their skills as reporters because of this experience.”

Portrait of a woman with a ponytail and glasses, wearing a blue button down shirt

“The fellowship gave our students the opportunity to do real community reporting on an important topic alongside many professional journalists. They had to go outside their comfort zone—the college campus—and contact experts and sources in the field as any other professional journalist would to report this story. I know these three students feel more confident with their skills as reporters because of this experience.”

Jessica Martinez, 2023 Emerging Journalist Fellowship advisor, El Camino College

Martinez spoke further about the positive impact that the Emerging Journalist Fellowship had on the development of the students’ reporting:

“Practical experience for student journalists is crucial. Programs such as this fellowship program provide opportunities and resources for students that they might not otherwise have. If it weren’t for the fellowship program, our students likely would not have done this story, as the student paper’s focus is the college campus and the immediate surrounding area. For this project, we traveled 15 miles south—an area some of the students hadn’t been to previously—to get a firsthand look at an important issue. Opportunities and programs like this one are essential to the growth and development of student journalists.”

Read El Camino’s special section, On Cliff’s Edge, embedded below, or click through to read on issuu.com: 

Emerging Journalist Fellowship

California Humanities’ Emerging Journalist Fellowship program provides student journalists at California community colleges financial and professional support to develop new skills and conduct in-depth local reporting projects. The program is designed to incorporate the insight and perspective of journalism and the context and inquiry of the humanities, to encourage media literacy and civic engagement, and to provide a springboard for California’s next generation of journalists.

First launched in 2019 as part of the national Democracy and the Informed Citizen initiative with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the Federation of State Humanities Councils, this program has since grown to include partnerships with community college campuses throughout the state.

In 2023, California Humanities has awarded $135,000 in fellowship funds in support of 36 student journalists enrolled at nine community colleges. We congratulate all the 2023 Emerging Journalist Fellows for bringing underreported stories of their communities to audiences throughout the state.

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