Staff Development: My Growth as a Journalist

Gaby Sanchez, Reporter

Signing up for Intro to Journalism, I remember not really knowing the reason why I chose to do so. I do remember when I was in the eighth grade, a friend of mine said she signed up for the class because she was in yearbook, and being the person I was, I decided that maybe it was something I was interested in, so why not?


Freshman year came and there I was. Audrey Smallwood taught my class for about half the year but ended up getting a promotion and was no longer my teacher. I remember thinking to myself, what if I don’t like the next one? After a couple of substitutes (special shout out to Mr. Ford) and a lot of CNN Student News (before CNN 10) in came Myca Williamson. I remember the first thing that instantly caught my eye was her hair and her eyeliner wings, always sharp.


Although I finally had a new teacher, I still had to deal with substitutes, because shortly after she was hired, she went on a trip to Australia. I remember she brought back seashells, which I still have stored away somewhere in my closet. A teacher interested in travel and journalism? I don’t know if it was the journalistic instinct in me, but I had to learn more.


When she got back, I started to learning how to write. It was finally my time to see if this journalism thing was really going to work out. The rest of freshman year was short, and I remember excelling at every story, but I wasn’t connected to the idea of writing just yet. Despite that, staff interviews came and I had my time scheduled.


I never thought that I would be on newspaper staff. I remember the application process so vividly. I was inside of the J-Lab office, when the couch used to be the first thing you see when you walked in, and Ms. Williamson was asking me questions about my interests. As I’m sure most replied, I talked about taking pictures for yearbook because that’s honestly what most people taking Intro to Journalism are wanting to do. By the end of the interview, I remember her saying, “I want to put you on newspaper staff,” and in my naivety I said yes.


Sophomore year, I picked a spot at the computer along side my counterparts Michael and Paola and became a reporter. I remember writing my first published newspaper story and thinking that maybe I could actually be a reporter. After receiving a UIL ribbon in headlines and taking a semester of photojournalism, the year was over in the blink of an eye, and the three seniors on our nine-person staff, who I got to know so well, were gone.


For junior year I took the harrowing decision to become one of the few “dual citizens” of journalism, which is what we call a person who is on two staffs. I learned that to be in journalism, a lot of it is learning on the fly, and applying what you already know with new concepts. I joined the Royal Reporters, otherwise known as Team 2 on yearbook, and learned that deadlines and scheduling would become my life. I had junior year’s implied academic challenge of AP classes, dual credit and OnRamps PreCalculus, but I never missed a single due date on my spreads, photo assignments, or stories.


If I wasn’t in the J-Lab third period on either day, I was probably just grabbing my lunch, getting an interview or on a journalism field trip. I attended all of the football games I could and even got my foot ran over by some football players trying to save my camera, which will forever be stuck in my memory. I made friends that I never would’ve made if it wasn’t for being in yearbook. We even made up certain code names for people. I have no regrets.


It will be my fourth and final year in the J-Lab, and I honestly have no idea what to expect. Year three on newspaper staff and my second on yearbook will definitely be one full of new memories and lots of stress, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I plan on trying to shake things up by going outside of my normal writing style for newspaper and developing my portfolio. I want to also get the yearbook to expand its influence, so that it becomes more than just a memory book but a history book.

The 2019-2020 school year will be the time for me to really use all of what I have learned as a reporter and staffer to better myself before moving up to higher ranks. Looking back on that day when I took a chance and asked my counselor to put me in journalism, I now know that it was the best decision for me.