School of Journalism and Mass Communications Partners with Adobe

True to San José State University’s (SJSU) reputation as the best place in Silicon Valley to learn how to prosper in the 21st century economy, SJSU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications (JMC) faculty and student staff members from SHiFT Magazine and South Bay Pulse are pushing the limits of digital technology. Like so many successful Silicon Valley start-ups, seed money came from experienced players and visionaries. Early contributors to the magazine program included SJSU’s Lucas College of Business and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Labs in Palo Alto, California.

“HP Labs helped us overcome the cost and distribution challenges,” says SJSU professor Tom Ulrich, magazine sequence advisor and digital publication program manager. “Our beautifully rendered magazines are available to a worldwide audience via HP’s print-on-demand service for about fifteen cents per page.”

Students create new digital magazine "The South Bay Pulse"

Journalism students create new digital magazine “The South Bay Pulse” to cover 25th Annual Cinequest Film Festival (photo: Christina Olivas)

With cost of printing and world-wide distribution in hand, Ulrich and engineers at Adobe Systems agreed to explore the most sophisticated tools for producing groundbreaking print and digital publications.

Last February, the staff produced the red carpet event at Cinequest. Staff members streamed the event live to subscribers across the world with Adobe software and $6,000 worth of off-the-shelf electronic equipment. They replaced the million dollar transmission trucks parked in front of the California Theater with portable electronic gear that every department on campus can afford.

“While still in its infancy,” Ulrich says, “we are convinced that these digital tools allow our students to rewrite the rules of broadcast journalism.”

As part of our ongoing experiment, the journalism program added South Bay Pulse, a digital weekly entertainment guide, to its stable of publications. In the summer of 2015 as part of the Adobe Challenge, staff members tested the December 2015 release of Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) software.

“With SHiFT magazine and South Bay Pulse, we are performing primary research in the undergraduate classroom,” says Ulrich. “In addition to contributing our ideas to Adobe’s next product release, we are the only group on campus to own an Apple developer’s ID.”

Adobe Systems professionals train South Bay Pulse students

Adobe Systems professionals train South Bay Pulse students

While Adobe created DPS in 2010 to clear the path for a prominent magazine publisher to move from print to the digital world, students from JMC are now helping to move the new industry standard forward.

“Staff members were chosen over students from other Bay Area universities to join seasoned programmers at Adobe to help develop the next generation of digital publication software,” Ulrich says. “Our students graduate not just knowing how to use these visionary tools. They are prepared to lead the industry.”

Alumni news: JMC grad publishes book on treatment of natives at CA missions

San José State University School of Journalism and Mass Communications graduate Elias Castillo has recently published a book entitled “A Cross of Thorns: the Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions.”

The cover of Elias Castillo's book.

The cover of Elias Castillo’s book.

Castillo, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist, describes the Spanish missions in his book as “death camps where more than 60,000 Indian workers died, many as a result of whippings, disease and malnutrition,” according to press release. During his research of the book, he closely examined records kept by the Catholic religious order, the Franciscans, that founded the missions. He asserts that from 1769-1833, indigenous people were held captive and treated brutally, with letters from Father Junipero Serra confirming such treatment.

The book was released in February by publisher Craven Street Books. It is available in hardback or e-book.

Castillo graduated from SJSU in 1962 with a bachelor’s of art, returning to the school to complete a master’s in 1997. He has had a distinguished career in journalism. He has earned three Pulitzer Prize nominations and 13 journalism awards for his work at the San Jose Mercury News, the Santa Barbara News Press, the Reno Gazette and the Associated Press.

Castillo and his wife Cathy Neville Castillo signed an agreement with the San José State University School of Journalism and Mass Communications to give back with a planned gift in 2013 that will establish the Castillo Journalism Technology Fund.


Spartan Daily receives Best of Show, other honors from collegiate press associations

San José State University’s student-run newspaper, the Spartan Daily, received more than a dozen statewide awards as well as national accolades from two collegiate journalism organizations in February.Daily header

At the California College Media Association awards banquet at the Sheraton Universal in Los Angeles Feb. 28, the College of Applied Sciences and Arts School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s newspaper program took home 16 awards. In 2014, they earned nine awards, making the 2015 haul a record.

The local campus paper competed against 44 student publications in the state, according to Prof. Richard Craig, including a third place finish in the Best Daily Newspaper category.

Sixteen different students won or shared awards, and three honors were awarded to the full Daily staff, according to Craig. Jonathan Marinaro won three awards, including second place honors for Best Newspaper Page/Design Spread and Best Headline Portfolio, and a shared third place award for Best Overall Newspaper Design. Rafael Ochoa took home three awards, including third place for Best Black and White Advertisement and Best Group Promotion, as well as an Honorable Mention for Best Online Promotion.

Sol Granados shared a first-place award with Brandon Chew for Best Photo Series, for their coverage of the Oakland riots after the Ferguson court decision, and Granados also took a third place honor for Best News Photo. Jerica Lowman won for Best Newspaper Column and shared the award for Best Overall Newspaper Design. Philip Beadle also took home two awards, one as part of a team (along with Jasmine Leyva and Sarah Kenoyer) that took third place for Best News Series, and also shared the award for Best Overall Newspaper Design.

Other Daily students who won awards included Austin Belisle, Jenny Bennett, Sam Brannan, Lauren Hernandez, Nick Ibarra, Patricia Lee, Colton Seike and Alicia Simpson. The Daily staff took first place for Best Photo Illustration and third place for Best Special Issue/Section.

Craig said the newspaper team was only topped by UCLA and UC Berkeley for number of awards won.

“Given the enormous advantages some of our well-funded competitors enjoy, this is a triumph for the Spartan Daily and its student reporters and editors,” Craig said in an email.

In addition to the state competition, the newspaper placed second nationwide among four-year daily newspapers in the Associated Collegiate Press Best of Show award at its 31st Annual National College Journalism Convention in Los Angeles in February. Out of 143 entrants nationwide, the Oct. 14, 2014 edition of The Spartan Daily placed second with lead stories by Nick Ibarra and Lauren Hernandez.

Professor Robert Rucker also shared news that two advertising students were selected to participate in internships in New York. The students include Vu Tran, who will be going to McCann, NY and Kaitlin Horner, who will be going to Havas, NY. More than 400 applicants applied for the 87 internships available.

JMC’s Guerrazzi takes Award of Excellence for ‘Opening Oman’ documentary

Diane Guerrazzi, a broadcast journalism professor at San Jose State University in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts’ School of Journalism and Mass Communications, has received the Mixed Video Award of Excellence from the Broadcast Education Association in the faculty category.

Diane Guerrazzi, a JMC professor, poses for a photo with students on a study abroad program to Oman in winter 2013.

Diane Guerrazzi, a JMC professor, poses for a photo with students on a study abroad program to Oman in winter 2013.

Guerrazzi and Hannah Gaber’s short documentary, “Opening Oman,” was recognized along with 11 other pieces nationwide in the BEA 2015 Festival of Media Arts competition. Prizes will be awarded during the BEA’s annual convention and Festival of Media Arts in April in Las Vegas.

The 12-minute video can be viewed online.

In the video, Guerrazzi, sets up a narrative about the ways in which the Middle Eastern country that is bordered by Saudia Arabia, Yemn and United Arab Emirates is looking to open itself to international tourism.

A narrator describes some of the efforts that Oman’s government has taken in the last two decades to open its borders up to tourism, such as open a tourism college and creating a bacherlor’s in tourism. But the country is still focused on striking a balance of drawing in visitors without losing its traditions.

“In Oman, we have this kind of idea that we really want to develop tourism but not offer it too widely so we lose identify and core traditions – history itself,” said Hooda Albalushi, a tourism lecturer at Sultan Qaboos University, in one of the interviews in the video. “We want to try to open up to the outside world, but keep up traditions and whatever makes us unique.”

According to the video, Oman has seen less than 2 million visitors in any one year, while Dubai in neighboring United Arab Emirates has seen as many as 10 million in a year. But tourism faculty say the country is focused on bringing in quality tourists instead of a high quantity, as it is one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the world.

Guerrazzi started the work on the documentary during winter session in 2013, when she collaborated with a professor from the University of Arizona, Maggy Zanger, who had contacts in Oman to take students abroad.

“She (Zanger) suggested the tourism angle, since Oman is truly at a crossroads with its approach to the outside world,” Guerrazzi said, via email. “Some of our students were journalism majors, but others were studying political science, tourism and behavioral sciences so the tourism topic was interesting to all.”

The study abroad program included four students from SJSU, one from Gavilan Community College, one from CSU East Bay, three from University of Arizona, one from the University of Oregon, one from the University of Delaware and one from the University of Arkansas.

“Students helped shoot some video and conduct some interviews,” Guerrazzi said, noting that Gaber, a graduate student from Arizona was especially interested in helping with the project. “She transcribed some interviews and contributed ideas.”

Guerrazzi said she was the primary person to shoot the video as well as the person who wrote the narrative and edited the piece. She worked on it throughout spring and summer 2014, even working on it while she was on vacation in Japan.

“To develop the story with a dramatic art, I needed to mold the piece as I created it,” she said. “It’s much different than writing a regular news story.”

Guerrazzi, who is also the director of the SJSU Afghanistan Journalism Education Enhancement Program, said documentary is a new field for her as she has worked in short-form broadcast for daily news for 30 years.

“I am encouraged to try another documentary, perhaps with another faculty-led program,” she said. “This time, it would be great to scout out locations and characters ahead of time.”

Guerrazzi and Halima Kazem, a colleague in JMC, are offering a four-week faculty-led program this summer in Turkey in which students will learn what it is like to be an international journalist and navigate the world working on various multimedia news stories.

The course still has openings for interested students who will work in small teams to develop a short documentary, a photo essay, a travel blog or any other multimedia product by the end of the course. The students will visit Turkish media organizations and collaborate with Turkish university students on their projects. A multimedia bootcamp will be offered before students depart for Istanbul and faculty will work with students to develop their projects. This is a great opportunity to cover an international issue, generate portfolio clips and make contacts abroad.

The three-weeks trip will include visits to Turkish media organizations such as Today’s Zaman, CNN Turk, Daily Hurriyet and Daily Sabah; visits to journalism departments at two Turkish universities; a tour of Istanbul’s landmarks and world heritage sites; a lecture on Turkish cuisine and café culture; guided walking tours and more.

For more on Guerrazzi and Kazem’s program, visit the CASA International Experience Initiative website. 

JMC premieres ‘The Barbershop Diaries’ for Black History Month

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San José State University will premiere a documentary entitled “The Barbershop Diaries” on Feb. 8, from 3-5 p.m. in Morris Dailey Auditorium. Admission is free for the documentary screening; tickets may be reserved online at

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications will premiere a documentary, 'The Barbershop Diaries,' on Feb. 8.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications will premiere a documentary, ‘The Barbershop Diaries,’ on Feb. 8.

The documentary, created by College of Applied Sciences and Arts multimedia students and Professor D. Michael Cheers, focuses on the historic and powerful impact barbers and beauty salon owners have in communities. According to a press release, “For generations it’s the place where people from all cultures have gathered to learn about each other, life and the challenges we face together.”

“This is the last in a series of trilogy projects that examines how engaging and compelling visual storytelling impacts community,” Cheers said, in the release. “In 2010, we premiered ‘Soul Sanctuary,’ an in-depth look at the challenges facing the aging congregation and leadership at Antioch Baptist Church, the oldest African American Baptist Church in San Jose.”

In 2013, “Dream Fulfilled, Dream Deferred” was premiered with a look at urban violence through the eyes of two San José families affected by gun and gang violence.

“‘The Barbershop Diaries’ afforded me the opportunity to spend time inside the shop’s hallowed public space,” Cheers said, “peer into the diverse lives of these barbers, and share with the public their personal stories of triumph over adversity, naysayers, personal demons and the stumbling blocks and hurdles of life.”

Over two years, the film “explores the eclectic lives of 10 barbers who work at Barbers, Inc., a neighborhood barbershop in downtown San Jose.”

The press release describes the participants featured in the documentary: Two are former inmates, now seeking salvation, redemption and “a chance to make things right.” Others are a budding actor and screenwriter; a lesbian barber who juggles a domestic relationship and her mother’s stage four breast cancer; a promising model and singer; a tattooed, man‐child who was headed for “jail or the graveyard”; a “my faith comes first” Muslim, who struggles to find a quiet place to pray during work hours; an unassuming Ethiopian immigrant, who lost his security guard job, and used his jobless benefits to pay for barber college; and a young apprentice barber, still studying for his license, with two toddlers in tow.

As part of Black History Month, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications will also unveil an online portrait gallery showcasing photographs taken by photojournalism students of South Bay area African-American barbershop and beauty salon owners.

For more on the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, visit: