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Davis, California

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Even without a formal program, student journalism flourishes at UC Davis

College journalism, both inside and outside the classroom, teaches students the skills necessary for navigating an ever-changing world 


By LAILA AZHAR — features@theaggie.org 


On May 4, Columbia University’s radio station, WKCR 89.9FM, released a statement on the importance of journalism on college campuses. 

“While these last two weeks have been an intense moment for anyone on Columbia’s campus, we want to take the time to reaffirm our belief in the necessary value of student journalism,” the statement reads. “The work being done shows us just how valuable and necessary it is to listen to student voices during these times of strife.” 

The statement was put out two weeks after WKCR began covering student protests against the university’s investments in companies that profit from the Israel Palestine war and subsequent police action faced by protestors. 

When the Columbia administration restricted mainstream media outlets’ access to the campus, the journalists at WKCR used their unique position as students to continue to report on the events unfolding. 

Student journalism has played a major role in coverage of events unfolding on college campuses, as demonstrated by Columbia students and other outlets including UCLA’s Daily Bruin and the University of Texas at Austin’s The Daily Texan

The same is true at UC Davis. While our university doesn’t have an official journalism program, students interested in the field have many options to practice reporting skills. 

Those interested in written media have the opportunity to write for The California Aggie, the student-run campus newspaper, which robustly covers campus and city news. The paper reports on a wide variety of topics and is made up of seven desks: campus news, city news, opinion, features, arts & culture, science & technology and sports. Students can apply for staff or volunteer positions, which open quarterly, or submit opinion pieces to opinion@theaggie.org for consideration.

Outlets such as Davis Political Review and Her Campus at UCD also provide spaces for students interested in platforms focused around specific topics. 

Additionally, the University Writing Program offers classes specialized in journalism skills, including “Writing in the Professions: Journalism” (UWP 104C), which gives students practical experience researching, interviewing and writing articles.

Alexis Muthoga, a third-year African American studies major, is currently enrolled in UWP 104C and emphasized the class’ focus on hands-on learning. 

“I would recommend the class to people who are interested in learning how to interview and do journalistic-style writing,” Muthoga said. “Having a certain level of curiosity and interest in the subject helps you learn the most you can.” 

The class also provides a friendly space for students to get feedback on their writing. 

“The energy in here is great,” Caitlin Ware, a third-year communications major, said. “It’s upbeat and a really positive environment. When you give feedback, you have to be strict of course, but it’s still a great environment.” 

KDVS News is another example of a way students can get involved with journalism outside of the classroom. It provides a unique opportunity for students interested in broadcast journalism. The group, which is housed under campus radio station KDVS 90.3 FM, produces a bi-weekly 30-minute segment covering campus news, along with a shorter interview-focused segment titled “Keepin’ It Freeform,” which is posted on the group’s Instagram account. 

Remali De Silva, a third-year English major and the group’s news director, commented on what she hopes KDVS News will bring to reporting on the UC Davis campus. 

“We think it’s important to keep the news vibrant and different and show it in all its forms,” De Silva said.

The skills taught through practicing journalism are not solely applicable to those who want a career in journalism. George Miller, one of the UWP 104C instructors, described the ways in which practicing journalism encourages a deeper awareness of the world. 

“To make human connections, we need to be aware of what’s going [on] around us, and to be honoring life by observing it,” Miller said. “If we are patiently observing, if we’re paying attention, then we can remain curious, and we can, as writers, help to satisfy curiosity that readers have, including curiosity they didn’t even know they had.” 

Miller continued by commenting on the role of journalists in today’s technologically adept world. 

“No other form of writing invites distracted browsing to the extent that journalism does,” Miller said. “Every year, the attention span of readers, the different kinds of distraction that readers have, increases. You’re always, as a journalist, trying to get their attention and keep their attention, and you hope to do that honorably rather than through cheap falsifying tricks.”

In an era defined by information overload, the skills learned through journalism are essential for anyone navigating complex issues. As college journalism continues to play an important role in the media, journalistic opportunities provide a path for students to deepen their understanding of the world around them. 

Even without a formal program, UC Davis is still full of these opportunities for students to benefit from the lessons that journalism can teach. 


Written by: Laila Azhar — features@theaggie.org 



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