Old dog returns to SFSU to learn new tricks

John Baker in the press box at San Francisco's AT&T Park in 2004. Baker has returned to SFSU to learn new media techniques. Photo by John Baker.

Journalism graduate John Baker wants to keep his career intact by learning new skills

Like many, my first real foray into journalism was by accident; I needed an extra class during my first semester of college and enrolled in a broadcast journalism class simply because it fit my schedule. Not only did I enjoy the class, but I eventually changed my major to journalism.

As my interest in the field grew, I began to think of journalism as an important cog for moving society forward — People need information in order to ensure they are not being held back and journalism is important as a check and balance on the government. I graduated, quickly got a staff job at a local paper on the Peninsula and began my crusade.

Five years after graduation, my career had stalled. I literally had two newspapers go out of business under me — not the journalism arc I had imagined. My dream journalism job had always been to be a globe-trotting foreign correspondent for a major newspaper, think Christiane Amanpour in the 1990s. I wanted to be stationed in some remote part of the world, examining issues that would not necessarily be faced by my American readership and educating myself as much as my readers. After a few months, I’d switch posts and learn, and share, about an entirely different part of the world. It didn’t quite turn out that way. With journalism jobs hard to come by, and needing stability with a young child, I began working as a 911 dispatcher. Eventually I returned to school, hoping to find a new career in public administration.

But the journalistic fire has still burned inside. I’ve kept writing on the side, mostly covering sports for local papers but also freelance pieces on other topics. I have never ruled out a return to journalism, hence my current interest in digital newsgathering.

While my foreign correspondent dream might be a bit unrealistic at this point, I do hope to adapt to the modern journalism world as best as I can. One way is taking advantage of opportunities for continuing my journalism education while enrolled in my other studies. New media seems to be where the future is heading, and it is one topic that was not taught to me my first time through a journalism program. At the very least, I’d like to follow the discussion and learn about the techniques being taught to modern journalism students.


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