AAJA San Diego’s Member of the Month for February.
San Diego State University student Holly Pablo has a bright future ahead of her.
Aside from currently working as a Collegiate Correspondent for USA Today, Pablo has written for The Daily Aztec and interned for KUSI-TV, The San Diego Union Tribune and SDSUâ€™s Media Relations and Communications team. Pablo has also served as treasurer for SDSU’s Society of Professional Journalists.
Pablo, who grew up in San Francisco, started recording her thoughts and short stories in the sixth grade. However, when entering Contra Costa College in Richmond, journalism wasnâ€™t her first choice. It wasnâ€™t until she became the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Advocate, when her interest in journalism heightened. Pablo was impressed by what she describes as the newspaperâ€™s â€œtenacity to address controversial issues,â€ such as crime and courts.
This past summer, Pablo was chosen to be a part of the photo team for AAJA Voices, an organization that provides the training and technology to journalists in order to keep up with the growing industry,Â in Detroit. This experience has allowed PabloÂ to feel more comfortable performing photo and video assignments, as well as gave her the determination to continue her career path in journalism. Pablo was awarded the Ken Wong Memorial Journalism Scholarship back in 2010 from the AAJA Bay Area chapter.
Pablo is graduating this December with a Bachelorâ€™s Degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.
We asked Pablo a few questions regarding her personal and AAJA experiences via email. Â
What do you enjoy most about journalism?
Itâ€™s opened my eyes to the world around me. Itâ€™s important to stay up to date in current events to make informed decisions and I love being able to contribute to this flow of information. And because Iâ€™ve always enjoyed writing, it doesnâ€™t feel like work. Itâ€™s a lifestyle, an adventure every day.
Tell us about your current role and responsibilities at USA Today?
The role of a Collegiate Correspondent is to draw inspiration from a national USA Today story and explore it from a higher education perspective. What makes it relevant to college students and why they should care.
What do you like about it?
Itâ€™s mostly self-guided, so we choose our own assignments. Itâ€™s a useful opportunity to practice generating story ideas and experiment in various storytelling styles. We also participate in weekly conference calls, and itâ€™s a great way to network with professionals and fellow students.
Do you occasionally find it difficult to balance being a student and a reporter?
Finding a balance between school and work has always been a struggle, but I find that the busier my schedule, the more productive I become. What often comes to mind, though, is the balance between perfect grades and practical experience. I still want bothâ€”so at this point, my social life has taken a hit, but Iâ€™m OK with that.
Is there a particular story that you’ve written that has been the most memorable for you? If so, describe the story and why was it so memorable.
Back at Contra Costa College, there was a football player who nearly died from major injuries during the first play of the season-opening game. I kept in touch with the student and his family, and wrote several pieces tracking his recovery (or lack thereof) that semester.Â At first, they adamantly denied interviews and photos, but after taking the time to get to know them and proving my intentions were sincere, they lowered their defenses and became very candid about their feelings.Â That experience definitely taught me the importance of building trust with sources.
A lot of professional journalists have been worried about their future in journalism. As a journalist yourself, does the state of the industry worry you?
Iâ€™m optimistic about the future of journalism. There will always be a need for news, and I expect the ways people seek information will continue to change, just as weâ€™ve seen in this digital transition. Itâ€™s all about embracing forward thinking and technological innovations while maintaining the fundamentals of solid reporting.
Have you participated in any AAJA events? If so, what did you do and how was the experience?
I attended the past two national conventions in Los Angeles and Detroit. These experiences gave me a more realistic sense of the industry today and itâ€™s fun meeting tons of great people who are passionate about what they do.
What do you think are some of the benefits of being in AAJA?
Joining AAJA helps individuals gain a greater sense of their heritage, as well as the need for diversity in the newsroom. I enjoy keeping up with MediaWatch, which addresses unfair and inaccurate news coverage of Asian and Pacific Islanders.
AAJA has become a second family to me and Iâ€™m forever grateful for the mentorship Iâ€™ve received since joining in 2010. Having this network of people who can relate is extremely motivating. I can only hope that Iâ€™ll be able to give back someday.
Looking ahead 5 years, where do you see yourself?
Thatâ€™s the most difficult question to answer, but I believe Iâ€™ll be happy wherever I am as long as Iâ€™m still writing. I am drawn to public safety and investigative journalism, but at this point, the possibilities are endless.
Do you have any advice for those just starting in journalism?
Write often, and seek constructive criticism.
Learn how to do everything: write, shoot and edit photos and videos, HTML, blog.
Join professional associations and keep in touch with pros and fellow students.
Seek opportunities outside of the classroomâ€”and donâ€™t be afraid of rejection. It shows youâ€™re trying.
For more information on Pablo, please visit her website here.