“We’re in the business of storytelling, and that will never go away.”
– Richard Koci Hernandez, Former Photojournalist, San Jose Mercury News
by Colleen Chalmers
Journalism Club President Colleen Chalmers at the ACP conference. Photo by Colleen Chalmers.
I grew up in San Francisco but never had such an experience like this in my city. I wore a blazer and sported a name tag that read “EDITOR” with a baby blue ribbon on it. I stayed on the 36th floor of the Westin Hotel in a room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking Market Street and the Bay. (Not something I get to do everyday.) I am so grateful to have attended the Associated Collegiate Press National Journalism Convention in early March. It was one of the most overwhelming and empowering events I’ve participated in.
Several conference events were held in the Westin Hotel’s Metropolitan Ballroom. Photo by Colleen Chalmers.
It was Thursday afternoon at 4:15, and the opening session was overdue. Hundreds of journalism students sat in the large Metropolitan Ballroom with two glass chandeliers above us. The keynote speaker arrived late, short of breath. “You never start a speech with an apology, so I’ll start with a story,” said Richard Koci Hernandez, instructor at Cal Berkeley and former photojournalist for the San Jose Mercury News.
Hernandez explained how he was sitting in his office, drinking Red Bull and excitedly planning his keynote address — for which he thought was the next day. He quickly realized his speech was today and he was across the bay in Berkeley and already late. For someone who was not finished preparing his speech, his words of wisdom touched me the most of the entire weekend.
He shared with us the sentiment that we are in the business of storytelling and how the need for stories will never go away, no matter what happens in the technology revolution. He called us “memory specialists” and said that journalists are a tribe of storytellers. He said that multimedia is not a new concept and that the platform and tools we use will always change, but the one thing that will survive changes will always remain the story.
Hernandez said that we cannot live in a consumed life forever and sometimes we should come out and breathe a while. “Life-balance is overrated,” he said. “Be consumed.”
Other quotable gems from Hernandez:
“Journalists of the future need to learn to speak a new language; be active.”
“Living through a revolution is not easy. But you should think like this: ‘I don’t care how the world changes. I know what I want to do.’ And that’s how you survive a revolution.”
“Use the KITN rule.” K (knowledge) + I (information) + T (technology) = N (new narrative.)
“Narrative cannot be unaffected by technology.”
“We will never be unleashed from the digital device… start thinking small screen.”
“We cannot face the future looking through the rear-view mirror.”
“We are a visually literate culture. Plan accordingly.”
“Journalism doesn’t just unfold quietly.”
“You have to know what you want to see before you can see it.”
And to end this particular post…
“Love your experiments as you would an ugly child.”
– Richard Koci Hernandez.