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William Paterson University's Official Student-Run Newspaper

The Beacon

William Paterson University's Official Student-Run Newspaper

The Beacon

William Paterson University's Official Student-Run Newspaper

The Beacon

The president of the William Paterson Society of Professional Journalists reflects on her journalism career as a student

Want to become a successful journalism student? Look to senior Rochelle Estrada for some inspiration. She is the current president of the William Paterson Society of Professional Journalists and strives to work as a radio news anchor. She also created a podcast for the WPSPJ, helping them win the national campus chapter of the year in 2023.


This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and quality.

Tommy Sherwood: What is the best part about being a journalist at William Paterson?


Rochelle Estrada: My favorite part about being a journalist at William Paterson is covering topics that I have never really covered before. I was able to cover media coverage within the Asian-American population and an event that they did for William Paterson, and I’ve honestly never really covered too many events that are centered on diversity. If anything, it was kind of about like events within this Patterson public schools at the time that I had covered, or I mean some campus news, which you can never go wrong with doing those. Still, I like being able to do more like it’s more coverage on events that lead toward like bigger causes outside of like campus sometimes. So I appreciate that William Paterson has given me opportunities to be able to do that, and it’s also helped me in being able to get me my first internship through my involvement with the WPSPJ; we’ve been able to write more news outside of what happens around me, right, more of like world news or state news, so I really liked that.


TS: What inspired you to become a journalist? 


RE: For me it was a funny story, it was kind of that I didn’t even realize that when I was nine years old that I would end up wanting to be able to do journalism. They had an attraction at a museum that I visited with my family in Rochester, New York. And it was kind of like a broadcast news attraction that you would be pretending to be a news anchor for TV, and they would give you like a teleprompter and you would choose a weather forecast to be able to report on they would have a background behind you of like whatever weather you choose. So I chose to be able to have a flood of news stories to be able to pretend to anchor so I read from a teleprompter and started to read from it and my family was being crazy in the background of pretending to act silly, pretending to swim in the flood, and drowning. But for me, the flood part was being able to kind of be in the camera and read and talk about what’s going on. So I didn’t really like think much of it at the moment, but I had enjoyed it. And I started kind of doing journalism more when I was 12 because I started writing for my school newspaper. And that gave me the opportunity to learn how to write leads, how to interview people in my school, how to be able to write down sources, because we used to do the old fashion way of actually writing down the quotes and having to remember them and writing them at the same time. So that was not fun, but it was a good skill to learn. And just being able to kind of like enjoy the idea of being like the voice that informs people on what’s going on. I really like that being able to inform the people. It gave me that passion to want to be able to report on voices that don’t really go noticed all the time. So I like being able to do that kind of coverage and more of a local aspect.


TS: Have you had any struggles while doing journalism as a student?


RE: It’s hard to be a journalist while being a full-time student at the same time. Because I guess sometimes, with the amount of time you have to write a story or to get sources, it doesn’t always work so well in your favor because sometimes you have issues trying to get sources with the limited time that you have.So those would be like the struggles, and sometimes I would face as a full-time student. I personally find it easier to kind of jump into a journalism career and separate it from school because then you could dedicate your whole entire self into the profession. It’s hard to do that when you are a student.


TS: What kind of journalism are you looking to pursue? Like there’s a lot of there’s radio, there’s broadcasts, there’s print, there’s digital, what kind of journalism are you looking to be a part of?


RE: I’ve recently been developing a passion for the radio sector of journalism because even though I love print, I really love being able to use my voice verbally to tell a story and to reach people. So, I really want to utilize my voice to do something within the field. And I’ve been developing an interest in radio more often have been able to like anchor news or maybe like host like shows to interview people to do more talkative interviews. I really have found myself enjoying that a lot more because I’d like having that interpersonal connection with the people that I talk to and have that be with others here because the voice makes a difference.


TS: What has been your best experience being a journalist?


RE: I have a few articles that I’ve like enjoyed being able to do. One of them was being able to write about the event that happened at William Paterson over a year ago for the Asian American discussion panel. I didn’t think that it would like lead to a publication for Tap Into, but it was a very pleasant surprise that it was able to be published on Tap Into as like a local news story for the education sector. So, it made me happy to be able to write that form of community news. I’ve also enjoyed being able to interview people that work for the food pantry in my town of Paterson. I wrote one for the hurt campus chapter and William Paterson that was published. And I also was able to write about, for my internship, an article about like the importance of balancing the amount of productivity that you do in your life. Because there’s a difference between doing too little and too much. So, being able to write about some articles based on personal experience is something that I enjoy to those spelled into more like opinion pieces. So I like writing opinion pieces as well, and I really enjoyed them.


TS: Do you have any advice for underclassmen student journalists? 


RE: I think that any experience that you can get, no matter what kind of news coverage it is, makes a difference. Because usually, people think I gotta get into the big news platforms. And I got to start with trying to get my way to like Fox and Fox News or CNN, but the reality is that you could start your experience. It’s something as simple as like writing for your local town or writing for like your county because that’s how you build your way to be able to get the experience needed to work into bigger news industries because you learned the importance of being able to write AP style or to follow the ethics of journalism or how to interview sources. You know how to be concise with your leads, you know, you learn those key skills that big jobs are looking for when you’re able to start small. So if you’re able to as a freshman start early in writing for like camp like a community news organization, start writing for campus news because all of that is going to matter in the long run when you apply for internships throughout your college years to be able to work in other news companies.


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