Help foster the next generation of journalists 

Print More

When we founded the Rochester Beacon in 2018, developing the next generation of journalists became a personal priority.

About six months after we launched, I began teaching at St. John Fisher University as an adjunct faculty member, first in English, and then in Journalism and Communications. I have since added teaching at the University of Rochester with some visits to Rochester Institute of Technology, as well. 

Smriti Jacob

I was struck by what excited student journalists—the thrill of a byline, the challenge of tracking down a source or convincing one to tell their story. Some of my students were hooked. And so was I—to their sincerity and enthusiasm.

My classes come with an incentive: a well-researched, well-written article might be published in the Beacon. Since our founding, we’ve worked with students from Fisher, UR, RIT, SUNY Oswego, Ithaca College and City University of New York. 

So far, 18 students have published their work in the Beacon. This summer, that number will grow to 21.

In the hope of creating a replicable model, we now have formalized the Beacon’s internship program as the Oasis Project—countering news deserts with student journalists. To support this program, it will be the focus of this year’s Beacon Community News Fund campaign, which starts Monday and runs through June 19.

We hope to raise funds to support student journalists as they consider careers in journalism and learn the power of writing and data analysis. At the Beacon, we believe strong skills in writing are useful in any profession.

I help train these young people. It is undoubtedly my favorite part of running the day-to-day operations of this fledgling nonprofit news venture. This year, Beacon board member Allison Frisch, assistant professor of journalism at Ithaca College, will join me in this endeavor. 

Here are the names of students who have published their work in the Beacon, and who will always be welcome in our newsroom:

■ Clare Boegel (Fisher)

■ Evan Coleman (UR)

■ Joey Fisher (Fisher)

■ Colin Hawkins (SUNY Oswego)

■ MacKenzie Kenyon (Fisher)

■ Alexandra Lajo Leonardi (UR)

■ Justin O’ Connor (UR)

■ Nadia Pentolino (UR)

■ Roblyn Powley (Fisher)

■ Henry Litsky (UR)

■ Alex Prideaux (UR)

■ Alyson Witt (Fisher)

■ Jacob Schermerhorn (CUNY)

■ Alex Schneider (RIT)

■ Mark Valenti  (Fisher)

■ Rylan Vanacore (RIT)

■ Jess Williams (Ithaca College)

■ Natasha White (UR)

If you’re a regular Beacon reader, you probably recognize some of these names. UR’s Henry Cramer and Narm Nathan and Ithaca College’s Charles Schaff began their work this week. They join two others still with us—Jacob Schermerhorn, who returned to work at the Beacon after graduation, and Evan Coleman, who contributes his time while working at Forbes. 

Help us add to our cadre of student journalists. Your support will help them expand their understanding of the Rochester community, and build a robust pipeline of young writers.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

5 thoughts on “Help foster the next generation of journalists 

  1. It is very exciting to learn about the OASIS project and the opportunities that the Rochester Beacon provides educating and empowering young journalists.

    There is a significant need in our democracy for local journalism and solution focused journalism based on ethical principle and practices. The capitalistic requirement for profit turned newsrooms into providing entertainment rather than journalism.

    The emphasis on facts and truth rather than entertainment is critical for ethical journalism and the optimal functioning of a democratic society.

    The efforts of the Rochester Beacon and Smriti Jacob to support, nurture, and facilitate good journalism is very inspiring and reassuring for a better future for our society.

  2. “Countering news deserts” is admirable. But do tell: Are you developing “journalists” who are advocates or journalists who are objectively reporting?

    • Thank you for the question. Our goal is definitely to create journalists rather than advocates. There are already plenty of the latter, and an ever-shrinking supply of the former. Thank you for reading the Rochester Beacon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *