Interviews, Photographs, and Deadlines, Oh My!


The Chronicle Staff

Amanda Mourelatos, Reporter

Imagine a hopping newsroom with high school students, some who have never done anything journalism-related before, and some who have been involved with their journalism classes at school. Everyone typing away, snapping photos, and going in and out for interviews. Editors are conversing with their peers to check their progress and see if any assistance is needed. Mentors are going around and helping the students, giving them writing tips left and right. This is what my life was like for a week in the Journalism Diversity Workshop at the University of Arizona.

I’m holding a snake!

On June 2nd, 2019, my parents drove me down to the Coconino dorms to put my belongings in my room, then we walked to the Marshall Building for the introduction ceremony. Frank Sotomayor, former Arizona Daily Star and Los Angeles Times writer, talked about the workshop to the room full of students and parents. My stomach was filled with butterflies as he explained the week’s schedule and what we will accomplish by the end of the week. The first student I talked to was named Mireya Borgen, who complimented my pants; we became really good friends after that. Finally, the time came where we would say goodbye to our family for a week.

Throughout the week, there were various lectures about all the aspects of journalism, including interviewing, podcasting, radio, drones and photography. We also got various lectures about how to safely pick up a rattlesnake and different health topics. I learned a lot more than I expected to learn in such a short amount of time, such as how useful recording an interview can be when writing an article and how short an ordinary news-style paragraph is. I also learned how important it is to make your interviewee as comfortable as possible during an interview.

For our staff profiles, we had to interview one of the other kids drawn at random. I got to write about Elijah Perez, a sophomore from Pueblo High School. I learned that he is a really good photographer, adores video games, and has impeccable music taste. I enjoyed getting to interview him, giving me a chance to practice my interviewing skills and learn about his life, the ups and the downs.

The most frightening experience during this workshop was not a rattlesnake being carried around, but the interview for staff positions. I knew before attending this program that managing editor was my goal, and that’s what I shot for. With my experience from The Paper Cut, I thought I might have a chance. However, I was up against some seniors who might have had more experience than me, and were obviously older too. Sure, I had a backup plan, but I wanted to be managing editor more than anything. Before my interview one night, I was very nervous, a little sweaty, and ready for it to be over. I could hardly sleep, not knowing what my position would be. Luckily, I woke up to the good news that me and my new friend Mireya were managing editors together!

Left to right: Jacky, Faith, Mireya, me, Savannah, and Jacky

After we got our job titles, things really kicked into gear. People were going on interviews, going places to take pictures, and writing like crazy. When I finished my first draft, my mentors really tore it up. There was more red than white on my paper, and it upset me a little at first. I’d never seen so many errors on my paper in my life, but I went ahead and fixed them and gave it back to my mentors. Again, there was a sea of red across the page. Seeing so many little mistakes got really discouraging after a while, but I kept fixing them, draft after draft. By time the red was all gone from my finished essay, I realized that all the red made me a better writer within the span of this week. It helped me be more aware of what fits in an English class essay compared to what goes into an article.

The Chronicle, the paper we wrote for during the week and is devoted to this workshop, had the theme of health and wellness for this issue. I decided to write about local businesses and what they’re doing to avoid using single-use plastic. So I talked to different businesses, such as Tank’s Green Stuff, Woops!, and the Food Conspiracy Co-Op. I also spoke to a woman named Gina Murphy-Darling who runs a website called Mrs. Green’s World, which is all about saving the environment. All the interviews consisted of how important it is to preserve our environment, and tips and tricks to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Since all of my interviews were via phone call, I learned about the beauty of recording an interview. It was incredibly useful to have everything the person said in my back pocket for whenever I needed it.

This workshop was one jam packed week filled with feelings of anxiety, excitement, anticipation, happiness, stress, accomplishment, and sadness. I walked in to the Marshall Building curious, shy, nervous. I walked out honored, proud, joyous, already missing all the beautiful people on The Chronicle staff. I am beyond thankful for this wonderful opportunity, the people that made it happen, my parents for letting me go, and my mentors that made me a much better writer.