San Jose State Remembers Leigh Weimers: "Ever Generous in the Cause of SJSU"

San Jose State Remembers Leigh Weimers: "Ever Generous in the Cause of SJSU"

SJSU Remembers Leigh Weimers: "Ever Generous in the Cause of SJSU"

Leigh Weimers in the Spartan Daily newsroom in 1958 (SJSU yearbook photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Services for Leigh Weimers, ’58 Journalism, will be held 3:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at St. Joseph Cathedral Basilica in downtown San Jose.

“For four decades, his daily column captured the comings and goings of the valley and laid the foundation for a cultural renaissance in San Jose that took place as the region left behind fruit orchards for its silicon future,” wrote his successor Sal Pizarro, also an alumnus.

The former Spartan Daily reporter and editor who went on to a 47-year career with the Mercury News died Aug. 30 at 76, just a few days after blogging that he was about to undergo heart surgery.

San Jose State extends condolences to Weimers friends and family, including his wife Geri, ’63 Business. The Weimers were lifelong supporters of SJSU, which Leigh positioned in his columns as one of many institutions integral to the region’s transformation into an international powerhouse.

“I’m convinced that when historians come to write about what has happened here over the past four decades, they’ll compare Silicon Valley to Florence at the start of the Renaissance,” he wrote in his final column for the Mercury News.

“After all, what took place in Italy back then was the development of new ways of looking at art, music, commerce, the world. And the technological developments here during the past 40 years have been no less global.”

San Jose State Remembers Leigh Weimers: "Ever Generous in the Cause of SJSU"

Weimers in the San Jose Mercury News newsroom in 2003 (Sharon Hall photo).

“One of the Best Times of My Life”

Weimers attended thousands of events while serving as the Mercury News man about town, but he described the Tower Award dinner gala in 2003, when he was the guest of honor, as “one of the best times of my life.” The award is SJSU’s highest honor for service.

“Ever generous in the cause of SJSU, Leigh regularly highlights in his column the accomplishments of university faculty and staff. He helps keep us in the news as a metropolitan institution and as an educational force in the Bay Area,” President Robert L. Caret said at the event.

Caret also traced Weimer’s accomplishments: He started his professional career in journalism as a high school student, working for his hometown newspaper, the Napa Journal. While still a student at Napa Community College, he became the youngest sports editor of a daily in the state.

As a junior transfer to San Jose State’s journalism program, Weimers joined the staff of the Spartan Daily and in his column, “The Circular File,” further refined the incisive, witty style for which he is known.

Fresh out of college, Weimers was hired by the Mercury News, his one and only employer (save a two-year stint in the Army). He has also served on the SJSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and on the university’s publications editorial board, helping to transform our alumni magazine, Washington Square, into the publication it is today.

San Jose State Remembers Leigh Weimers: "Ever Generous in the Cause of SJSU"

The Leigh Weimers Journalism Scholarship Fund, established about 10 years ago, continues to support journalism students.

The Leigh Weimers Journalism Scholarship Fund

But it was the Tower Award master of ceremonies, Steve Snell, ’62 Business, who really made the case for Weimers, and for journalism.

“Just think, when Leigh started writing for the Mercury News, San Jose’s population was about 100,000 people,” Snell said. “It’s now almost a million, and through it all he’s been our greatest booster and supporter.

“He is in many ways responsible for giving us a positive image of ourselves.  His column has promoted what’s good about San Jose.  And sometimes when he’s pointed out what could be improved, he’s always done it in a positive way.

“He has helped innumerable civic and arts organizations through his mentions and stories.  A mention in Leigh’s column can be the difference between a successful event and one not so successful.  And Leigh and his paper have been major supporters of San Jose State University and the Alumni Association.”

The Leigh Weimers Journalism Scholarship Fund, established about 10 years ago, continues to support journalism students. Please consider giving. You can do so online (http://www.sjsu.edu/giving/, click “give now,” and then click Leigh Weimers Journalism Scholarship Fund).

Or please send checks to the Tower Foundation of San Jose State University, One Washington Square, San Jose, CA, 95192-0183. In the memo section of the check, please write “Leigh Weimers Journalism Scholarship Fund.”

a woman typing on a computer in a trendy cafe

Spartans at Work: At Twitter, I Am “More Sensitive Toward the Different Perspectives” of Other Cultures

By Sarah Kyo, Web Communications Specialist

(This summer, SJSU Today hits the road, visiting students and recent grads on the job across the country and around the world. Our Spartans at Work series continues with mass communications alumna Carolina Janssen.)

Where will an SJSU degree take you? How about a job with one of the hottest, most influential companies in the world? Carolina Janssen, ’10 Mass Communications, is part of Twitter’s International Market Development team, helping this San Francisco-headquartered service reach the rest of the world.

“I never understood how much work it really is to bring a product that was created in this country and make it work in another country,” Janssen said. “It’s not just doing the same thing there. You have to really change a lot of really small things.”

Janssen, a German native, started working at Twitter two years ago as Localization and International Support for German-speaking users. Now she is part of a diverse team, conducting market analysis, and credits her alma mater for preparing her for this role. Janssen had lived at SJSU International House, a dormitory for U.S. and international students. She also worked at I-House and at Studies in American Language, now known as International Gateways.

“San Jose State is an obviously very international university, and I think just living in this environment of people from all over the world for two years prepared me perfectly for particularly the position that I got at Twitter,” she said. “I think it also made me more sensitive toward the different perspectives that different cultures have.”

You can follow Janssen on Twitter at @lija.

SJSU Organizes Journalism Skills Academy for Afghan Professors

SJSU Organizes Journalism Skills Academy for Afghan Professors

One of the most challenging aspects of the academy was teaching non-linear editing in just a couple of days. Adobe donated copies of it’s new Creative Suite 6 to help our efforts, and Dubai’s Higher College of Technology donated its classroom space (photo courtesy of Diane Guerrazzi).

By Diane Guerrazzi, Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications

(Editor’s Note: Professor Guerrazzi sent the following from the Middle East, where she is helping establish college journalism programs. Her work is funded by the U.S. State Department.)

SJSU sweated it out in Dubai this July, organizing a two-week Journalism Skills Academy for professors from five different universities in Afghanistan: Kabul, Shaikh Zayed, Nangarhar, Balkh and Herat. Their homeland is too unpredictable for conducting training, as I saw first hand when I was abruptly evacuated from Herat last year, following coordinated suicide attacks.

Albeit hot, Dubai is orderly, with easy airport and Metro access for journalists to practice reporting. As part of their work in the academy, Afghan professors created television news stories.  The topics ranged from the burgeoning Indian population in Dubai to the technology behind the fountains near the “tallest man-made structure in the world,” the Burj Khalifa. One of the most challenging aspects of the academy was teaching non-linear editing in just a couple of days. Adobe donated copies of its new Creative Suite 6 to help our efforts, and Dubai’s Higher College of Technology donated its classroom space.

SJSU Organizes Journalism Skills Academy for Afghan Professors

SJSU organized the academy and sent four representatives to teach and assist: English instructor Kelly Robart, Assistant Professor Diane Guerrazzi, alumna/Afghan-American journalist Halima Kazem and contracts administrator Susan Mir (photo courtesy of Diane Guerrazzi).

The weeks were long, Afghan-style. In keeping with the school schedule in Afghanistan, our only days off were Fridays.  We managed to squeeze in a quick tour of Dubai and a “Desert Safari.” SJSU organized the academy and sent four representatives to teach and assist.

SJSU has two $1 million State Department grants to modernize journalism education at Afghan Universities; one of our grants is for Balkh University in the north, and the other is Herat, in western Afghanistan. We invited the other U.S. universities with grants to join us and help teach the Academy and they all took us up on the offer:  Ball State, University of Arizona and University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Our colleagues from Herat and Balkh Universities are scheduled to visit SJSU for 11 weeks each in the coming months. The first group will arrive in October. Having spent two weeks with them this summer, and seeing them on previous visits to Afghanistan, we’ll be introducing old friends to campus. The welcome will be warm, and the San Jose weather will be welcome, after the summer in Dubai.

Students in bee keeping outfits in Paris

Students Experience International Public Relations in Paris

Students in office attire pose with an UNESCO sign outside of a building.

SJSU students visit UNESCO during their international public relations trip in Paris. Photo courtesy of Mathew Cabot.

By Sarah Kyo, Web Communications Specialist

What do Cisco, KPMG and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have in common?

They all have offices in Paris, and a group of SJSU students have visited them within the last week!

This is part of a faculty-led program by Associate Professor Mathew Cabot of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Cabot has been tweeting photos and using the hashtag #SJSUParis during this trip called “Exploring the World of International Public Relations: Paris, France.”

According to the program’s website, future destinations include Versailles, the Champagne region, Louis Vuitton corporate headquarters and a one-day excursion to Brussels.

“Because the public relations profession has gone global, our public relations, advertising and marketing students need to ‘go global’ as well,” according to the program description. “This course is designed to introduce students to the world of international strategic communications, give them a first-hand experience of overseas work and expose them to the challenges and opportunities in intercultural communication.”

Another aspect of the program is learning more about corporate social responsibility. The students experienced what some Cisco employees are doing on their office rooftops: urban beekeeping! They donned protective clothing and learned about efforts to support the endangered bee population. Sales from the honey support Man and the Environment, a non-governmental organization based in Madagascar that specializes in “sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.”

KTVU: Alumnus, Local TV Legend Lloyd LaCuesta Ends Career that Began at San Jose State

KTVU: Alumnus and Local TV Legend Lloyd LaCuesta Ends Career that Began at San Jose State

Lloyd LaCuesta was on the tarmac at the San Jose airport when Tommie Smith and John Carlos returned from the 1968 Olympics. Click on the image to view the video.

Veteran KTVU reporter Lloyd LaCuesta ends his distinguished career

Posted by KTVU April 24, 2012.

OAKLAND, Calif. — KTVU’s South Bay Bureau Chief Lloyd LaCuesta retired Friday after 35 years of reporting for KTVU Channel 2 News.

“I have spent half of my life at KTVU which makes it all the more difficult to say goodbye. But it is time. I am retiring from Channel 2, effective June 15, 2012,” said LaCuesta, “I need to slow down and truly enjoy life.”

LaCuesta is considered the dean of reporters in the Bay Area with a total of 43 years in journalism. He is the longest tenured reporter at KTVU and has held the title of South Bay Bureau Chief for decades.

The award-winning journalist has reported on some of the biggest stories in the history of the Bay Area and California including the Loma Prieta Earthquake and the Oakland Hills Fire.

He also covered big national stories including the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens, the L.A. Riots in 1992, the Columbine high school shooting and live reporting from the GOP convention in 1980. LaCuesta travelled internationally for KTVU covering Hurricane Mitch in Honduras, the Kobe, Japan Earthquake and produced multi-part series in Vietnam about Amerasian children and to the Philippines to cover the Marcos vs. Aquino Presidential campaign.

“Lloyd’s reporting has been so strong and so consistent for KTVU for years. He’s been the iron man of our South Bay coverage,” said Tom Raponi, KTVU/KICU Vice President & General Manager. “While we are excited for Lloyd in his decision to make this move, his presence on KTVU — in particular the Ten O’Clock News — will be greatly missed.”

LaCuesta has been honored with some of the most prestigious awards in journalism.

He has won six Emmy Awards from NATAS — one for Bay Area Breaking News, several Associated Press “Best of the West” awards and many honors from the Peninsula Press Club. LaCuesta’s live reporting was integral to The Ten O’Clock News on KTVU Channel 2 winning a national Edward R. Murrow Award for Newscast Excellence in 2004 from RTNDA.

LaCuesta was the first elected national president of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the first president of Unity Journalists of Color. He is on AAJA’s prestigious list of pioneer Asian American journalists and is a recipient of AAJA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. LaCuesta was inducted into the NATAS Silver Circle in 2004 for his many years of outstanding Bay Area reporting.

“As I end my career, I hope I have helped those who have watched me over the years become better informed and involved citizens,” said LaCuesta. “KTVU allowed me to cover events which viewers experienced through my eyes.”

“Lloyd has such great contacts in the community. He has always been able to break stories and get interviews that other reporters can’t get. People trust him,” said Ed Chapuis, KTVU News Director. “It has been an honor to pencil ‘Lloyd LaCuesta’ into the line-up each night. He made KTVU better just by stepping onto the field each day.”

Besides his reporting, LaCuesta has also been teaching journalism for years. He has taught hundreds of journalism students at San Jose State and Menlo College.

Before coming to KTVU in August of 1976, LaCuesta worked for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, KMPC Radio, KNX-CBS Newsradio, American Forces Korea Network, KABC Radio, KABC TV and KGO TV. He has a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from San Jose State and a Masters in Journalism from UCLA.

Two Spartans Receive Emmys

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

At least two graduates of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications received Emmys at the National Academy Television Arts and Sciences 41st Annual Northern California Area Awards June 9. Mike Anderson, Photojournalism ‘10, won in the video essay (one camera only) category. His entry featured people with extraordinary jobs including a Google doodler, a crane operator, and an astronomer. Anderson’s stories air on NBC Bay Area, where he works as a web producer. Broadcast journalism alumnus and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area personality Brodie Brazil won in the on camera talent program host/moderator/reporter category. Also up for an Emmy was Brazil’s short documentary on the Spartans 1941 football team, which was in Honolulu for a game against the University of Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

View Anderson’s composite (video examples of his work).

View Brazil’s composite.

View “They Came for Football.”

SJSU Remembers Dwight Bentel, Journalism Education Visionary

SJSU Remembers Dwight Bentel, Journalism Visionary

SJSU Remembers Dwight Bentel, Journalism Education Visionary

Dwight Bentel, the driving force behind the development of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, died May 16 at 103.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

San Jose State has lost one of its most influential faculty members of all times: Dwight Bentel, the driving force behind the development of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, died May 16 at 103.

“Beloved as an outspoken champion of the First Amendment, Dr. Dwight Bentel became one of the most powerful voices in journalism education in California and the nation,” said Professor Bob Rucker, current JMC director.

A true visionary before the term was so often associated with our valley, Bentel saw the potential for mass media way back in the 1930s. He fostered the development of the journalism program at SJSU, which has since trained thousands of reporters, who in turn touched millions of lives.

San Jose State’s journalism school was not the first, but has long been among the best. Early on, perhaps because he was a reporter himself, Bentel emphasized the combination of academic and pre-professional work crucial to producing journalists with the critical thinking skills and hands-on experience needed, not just to land jobs, but serve audiences well. Six Pulitzer Prizes are credited in full or part to SJSU journalism graduates, according to a San Jose Mercury News obituary.

Six Pulitzers

“When you think about how early this program began, that’s what we can thank Dr. Bentel for, the idea that he just saw it coming and grabbed it and put San Jose State at the forefront … in the world of journalism education,” said Kim Komenich, a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner and 1979 SJSU alumnus who now teaches at San Jose State, in a video produced for Bentel’s 100th birthday by students Diana Diroy, Christian Garrucho and Carlos A. Moreno.

So much of what Bentel set in motion remains in place today. Just as they did when Bentel took the reins of the journalism program in the 1930s, students still write, edit and design the Spartan Daily on campus in a classroom equipped for this purpose in a building named in his honor in 1982. Students and faculty advisers still meet at 1 p.m. daily to critique the previous issue, and students still earn three credits, but pour in far more time, for serving on the staff.

Students are still required to do an internship, and the department still offers the sequences established by Bentel in journalism, photo journalism, advertising and public relations. The entire process continues to send hundreds of young journalists into the workforce annually, professionals who are shaping our valley and beyond.

Timeless Relevance

In an age when so many are questioning the relevance and lasting power of journalism, Bentel’s steadfast belief in the First Amendment and all the responsibilities it imparts on communicators remains timeless, as exemplified in this memory recounted in a Spartan Daily tribute written by this term’s managing editor Brittany Patterson:

In an impromptu visit to the student newsroom four years ago, Bentel was speaking in a soft voice when a newspaper staff member asked, What is most important for a journalist, Mr. Bentel?” Bentel interrupted, saying, “Accuracy! Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Accuracy! Accuracy! Accuracy!” Then his voice elevated and he rapidly shouted, “Get it right. Get it right. Get it right. Get it right.”

Services are pending, including a campus celebration planned for this fall. Donations may be made to the Dwight Bentel First Amendment Champions Fund, San Jose State University Tower Foundation, One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192-0257, or www.sjsu.edu/giving.

Pinterest Makes its Way to SJSU

Pinterest Makes its Way to SJSU

Lucas School pinboard featuring San Jose.

Check out this Lucas School pinboard showcasing all San Jose has to offer students.

By Ryan Whitchurch, Public Affairs Assistant

Pinterest, one of the fastest growing social media sites in history, has taken campus by storm. For example, a graduate program and journalism class have adopted this new social media tool into their marketing tactics and curricula.

The Donald and Sally Lucas Graduate School of Business and Mass Communications 139 are utilizing this tool to bring more attention from the outside community to what is happening on campus.

“It (Pinterest) allows prospective students, particularly international students, to imagine themselves at San Jose State University, and shows them the faces of the people they will encounter if they become students,” said Catherine Dougherty, Lucas School program coordinator.

In this way, the Lucas School is using this social media tool in an attempt to recruit more students into their program.

Dougherty says that the use of Pinterest allows their department to show the university to potential students by displaying photos.

The various “pinboards” on the Lucas Graduate School of Business Pinterest site draw attention to the beauty of the SJSU campus and showcase the programs that this college provides.

MCOM 139 is a class being offered by Michael Brito in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Brito’s class has also begun using Pinterest to help his students keep hip to current trends occurring within social media.

“It helps keep my students at the forefront of technology,” Brito said. “With new networks emerging daily, it’s important for students to be ahead of the curve.”

Brito challenges his students to regularly post content relevant to social media onto Pinterest in an effort to build their understanding of the site and further develop their personal brand.

The use of Pinterest at San Jose State University is rapidly growing and these two examples are on the front line of bringing this new medium into the classroom.

Check out the Lucas MBA Programs Pinterest account to see what this school has to offer, and the MCOM 139’s Pinterest account to see what Brito’s students are saying about social media.

Students working in studio with camera. Guests are sitting in front of green screen.

Public Television Program Presents Students' Work

Multicolor puzzles arranged in a ribbon (Flickr image by Beverly & Pack)

Puzzle piece symbols are often associated with autism, the topic of the season two premiere of "Equal Time." (Flickr image by Beverly & Pack)

“Equal Time,” a School of Journalism and Mass Communications television program, premieres its second season on Saturday, April 28, at 2 p.m. on KQED Plus.

Each episode features in-depth reporting on a single topic and showcases different points of views. The season premiere will focus on people living with autism.

“Autism poses new challenges and questions as persons with the disorder reach adulthood,” according to KQED’s website. “For instance, who will care for them once their parents are no longer living? A murder/suicide in Sunnyvale recently placed the issue front and center.”

Families raising children with autism and representatives from the non-profit Parents Helping Parents will be included in this episode.

Executive producer Diane Guerrazzi, a broadcast journalism professor, leads a class of students responsible for producing, reporting, filming, writing and editing television packages for “Equal Time.” Bob Rucker, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, is the host and leads a panel discussion that makes up the second half of the program.

Future episodes focusing on graffiti, marijuana clubs and religious expression will air in May on Saturdays at 2 p.m. on KQED Plus, formerly known as KTEH.

To find out more information about the program and its schedule, visit KQED’s website.

Students working in studio with camera. Guests are sitting in front of green screen.

Public Television Program Presents Students’ Work

Multicolor puzzles arranged in a ribbon (Flickr image by Beverly & Pack)

Puzzle piece symbols are often associated with autism, the topic of the season two premiere of "Equal Time." (Flickr image by Beverly & Pack)

“Equal Time,” a School of Journalism and Mass Communications television program, premieres its second season on Saturday, April 28, at 2 p.m. on KQED Plus.

Each episode features in-depth reporting on a single topic and showcases different points of views. The season premiere will focus on people living with autism.

“Autism poses new challenges and questions as persons with the disorder reach adulthood,” according to KQED’s website. “For instance, who will care for them once their parents are no longer living? A murder/suicide in Sunnyvale recently placed the issue front and center.”

Families raising children with autism and representatives from the non-profit Parents Helping Parents will be included in this episode.

Executive producer Diane Guerrazzi, a broadcast journalism professor, leads a class of students responsible for producing, reporting, filming, writing and editing television packages for “Equal Time.” Bob Rucker, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, is the host and leads a panel discussion that makes up the second half of the program.

Future episodes focusing on graffiti, marijuana clubs and religious expression will air in May on Saturdays at 2 p.m. on KQED Plus, formerly known as KTEH.

To find out more information about the program and its schedule, visit KQED’s website.

New York Times: Judo Legend Yosh Uchida Celebrates 66th Year, 2012 Olympian

Sports of The Times: For 66 Years, a Force for Judo in the United States

Published by the New York Times April 1, 2012.

New York Times: Judo Legend Yosh Uchida Celebrates 66th Year Coaching, Including a 2012 Olympian

Kevin Johnson, a junior in the SJSU Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, helped shoot and edit this three-minute New York Times clip on Coach Uchida.

By WILLIAM C. RHODEN

Yoshihiro Uchida celebrated his 92nd birthday on Sunday.

Even more impressive is that for 66 of his years, Uchida has been coaching judo at San Jose State University. He built the program into a national power and has almost single-handedly elevated the stature and visibility of judo in the United States.

Uchida, a Japanese-American, has also been a model of determination and has had a knack for transforming obstacles into opportunity and using an opponent’s momentum to his advantage.

Last month Uchida watched proudly as San Jose State hosted the national collegiate judo championships and his Spartans won their 45th championship in 51 years. This summer, one of his athletes, Marti Malloy, will represent the United States at the Olympics in London.

As important as judo has been to Uchida, his life has been framed by other events. While he served in the United States Army during World War II, his family was sent to American internment camps. Because of his heritage, he struggled to find work after the war, but he eventually founded successful businesses. And he has never quit working or coaching.

“I thought that when I got to be 65, I’d start getting Medicaid, Medicare and all that,” he said during a recent interview in his office. “I thought, Well, that would be the end. But when I got to be 65, I felt great. I feel that if I just retire and do nothing, my whole life would start to shrink.”

Uchida was born April 1, 1920, in Calexico, Calif., the third of five children. He grew up in Garden Grove, helping grow strawberries and tomatoes. At 10 he learned judo, part of a traditional method for Japanese parents in America to instill their culture in young men.

In 1940, Uchida enrolled at San Jose State, where he studied chemical engineering and was student-coach of the physical education department’s judo program. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was drafted into the Army, where he served in the medical corps as a laboratory technician.

For a generation of Japanese-Americans, the American dream disintegrated on Feb. 19, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the removal of about 110,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans from the West Coast during the war. Uchida’s parents were incarcerated at a camp in Arizona; his brothers were sent to the Tule Lake Relocation Center in Northern California; his sister and her husband were sent to an internment camp in Idaho.

Reminders of that have never left. In fact, the building on campus that now houses the judo dojo — renamed Yoshihiro Uchida Hall in 1997 — was a processing center for internment camps.

“It was upsetting and confusing,” Uchida said. “You’re an American citizen, drafted into the Army. You’re in basic training, and your parents are in an internment camp. You really did get angry.”

Like African-American soldiers serving during World War II, American-born Japanese who were United States citizens — Nisei — served in segregated units where they were subjected to much of the same racist treatment.

Uchida recalled an episode in 1942 at Camp Crowder in Missouri when a burly white soldier confronted a group of Nisei and referred to them as Japs. Uchida, who stood 5 feet 5 inches, took offense and challenged the soldier. A scuffle ensued, and Uchida took down the stunned soldier with a judo throw.  “I was a hero in the barracks,” he said.

After four years of service, Uchida returned to San Jose State and earned a degree in biological science. He also resumed teaching and taught judo to police candidates.

Most of the candidates were World War II veterans attending college under the G.I. Bill of Rights. Many had taken a mongrelized form of self-defense in the service. “They had no interest in a Japanese-American teaching them anything,” Uchida said. “They were big and arrogant.”

On the first day of class, one student, a veteran and a San Jose State football player, confronted Uchida. “He asked me what I thought I could teach him and said that he used people like me for bayonet practice,” Uchida said. “He said, ‘What would you do if I did this?’ ”

The veteran picked Uchida up, dangled him and swung him around. “The class thought it was funny,” Uchida said. “I just dumped him, in front of the whole class; the class was just shocked. I turned around and said, ‘O.K. fellas, this is judo.’ There wasn’t trouble after that.”

After graduating in 1947, Uchida remained the San Jose State coach, a part-time position. However, he had difficulty finding employment in a hospital despite his degree and his extensive experience as a lab technician in the Army. One prospective employer, Uchida said, told him, “You might be able to do the work, but we’re not hiring any Japs.”

Uchida protested that he had worked with thousands of veterans during the war. “I was told: ‘That was because you were in the military. Here, we have all these civilians, and you would be touching them — and they wouldn’t want that.’ I was real discouraged.”

Fortunately, a friend who was a supervisor for the county had a friend at O’Connor Hospital and arranged for Uchida to be hired as a lab technician in the emergency room, where he worked the overnight shift. Uchida eventually became a lab supervisor at San Jose Hospital.

His passion remained judo, and his crusade was to help establish it as a sport sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union, which, with the help and influence of Henry Stone, the judo and wrestling coach at California, came about in 1953.

That year, San Jose State sponsored the first nationwide A.A.U. championships. In 1962, Uchida organized the first national collegiate judo championships, which San Jose State won. (Judo is still not sanctioned by the N.C.A.A.) He and Stone helped judo become an Olympic event, and Uchida was the coach of the United States’ first Olympic judo team, which competed at the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo and won a bronze medal.

As a Japanese-American, “to be elevated to coach an American Olympic team was something you never dreamed of,” Uchida said.

“This for me was one of the greatest things,” he added. “Nobody had ever heard of such a thing.”

Judo was not enough to sustain Uchida and his young family, however. Unable to get a home loan because of insufficient income, Uchida, who was still teaching judo, went into business on his own. He bought a failing medical laboratory from an acquaintance in 1957 for $3,000, putting $75 down and paying the balance in increments. Using friendships and connections with doctors he had worked with, Uchida turned the business into a profitable venture. Part of the profits kept San Jose State judo afloat.

During the next three decades, Uchida bought 40 laboratories. In 1989, he sold his business to Unilab for $30 million. He and 78 investors later began the San Jose Nihonmachi Corporation. They built a sprawling $80 million complex of housing and commercial units in San Jose’s Japantown, converting an eyesore into an impressive community.

After more than nine decades of living, Uchida said, chief among the many lessons he has learned is that if you have a cause or a mission, determination alone is not sufficient to see it through.

Uchida uses the internment camps as an example of what can happen to the uninvolved. He recalled how Japanese-Americans were scapegoated and stereotyped and became the target of unfounded suspicions.

“People would come up with all kinds of accusations and things that were not true,” he said. “But we were not politically involved enough to be able to stop that. You have to be politically involved and know what’s going on. If you’re not politically involved, things happen and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Uchida added: “Sometimes, you get kicked around. But if you believe in it, just keep pushing ahead. You might have to find out how to get there by going backward and then coming back again.

“But if you don’t get involved,” he said, “you won’t live long.”

Students in class at Kabul University.

Professor Helps Bring Modern Journalism to Afghanistan

Bombed buildings in Kabul (Guerrazzi image).

Suicide bombings forced Guerrazzi to cut short a previous trip, and people advised her to cancel this trip as well (Guerrazzi image).

By Diane Guerrazzi, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications

(Editor’s Note: Professor Guerrazzi sent the following from Afghanistan, where she is helping establish college journalism programs. Her work is funded by the U.S. State Department.)

As I was guest lecturing to a journalism class of 30 students at Kabul University today, a student wearing a Western-professional grey blazer in the back row stood up.  He thanked me for coming to Afghanistan, in spite of the danger, and said it proved to him that Americans really do care.  Until I heard that young man, I had underestimated the impact of this trip.

With raw feelings over the shooting of innocent civilians in Kandahar, many people advised me to cancel the trip.  I traveled here twice last year, and the coordinated suicide bombings forced me to return to San Jose early.  However, it’s clear to me now that this new trip is well timed. We cannot erase the damage and suffering, but we can show our support and prove to the people here that we follow through with our promises.

Kabul University faculty members with Guerrazzi in teal scarf (Guerrazzi image).

This was planned as a partnership-building trip to meet the journalism faculty at Balkh University in the north, near Mazar-i-Sharif.  The SJSU School of Journalism and Mass Communications this February received $1 million from the U.S. State Department to help modernize the journalism program at Balkh.   It’s the second $1 million grant that my colleague Peter Young and I co-wrote; the first was with Herat University in Western Afghanistan. I am heading to Balkh and Herat next week, but this initial stop in the capital city is equally as important.

Kabul University is considered the “mother ship” of all public universities in Afghanistan. Decisions made in this senior institution ripple through the system.  I sat down with a dozen journalism professors here, hearing their hopes for improvement and their frustrations over having so little to work with.  For example, the professors have no projectors in their classes.  That means no Power Point or video examples.  The students have no computers or cameras to work with.

Hand holding photo of women learning about journalism at what looks like a day care for children.

A 1999 photo of women being trained as journalists underground (Guerrazzi image).

That means they “learn” about journalism — heavy on the theory — without putting their hands on the tools of the trade.  A media center has been built to provide a working television studio, but for now it’s just a shell of the building.  Technology is on the way, but for now it’s still just a promise.

After spending the morning at Kabul University, I went with journalism professor Jawida Ahmadi to Suboot News Agency, a 15-minute drive.  Ahmadi founded the agency, whose motto is: “An effort to reflect truths.”  In addition to a print edition, Suboot publishes on the Web.

Over a lunch of fried eggs, potatoes and yoghurt, Ahmadi said she’s especially interested in training female journalists; she began teaching young girls how to report in the Taliban era.  For now, Ahmadi runs Suboot with money from the U.S. Embassy, Kabul, the same provider of the SJSU-Balkh-Herat grants.  If Subhoot funding runs dry, Ahmadi does not know how she will afford rent or electricity, but she is determined to continue shaping young journalists.

two men in traditional clothing with a wheelbarrow full of bananas

Banana sellers in Kabul (Guerrazzi image).

We at SJSU are devoting most of our grant toward training the Herat and Balkh professors, the vast majority of whom have nothing above a bachelor’s degree.  We are also arranging internships for students to gain hands-on experience in Balkh and Herat. This trip to Afghanistan will likely be my last.  The rest of the training will take place on safer ground; we will meet the Afghans in Dubai for a summer Journalism Academy the next three years.  We will also host the professors at SJSU for eight weeks this fall and next spring.  We’ll expose them to our student media, including the Spartan Daily, Access and Shift Magazines, Update News and Equal Time.  We hope they will come away as true partners, not only as journalists, but as friends who keep their promises.

Phyllis Slack, Dona Hodge Nichols and Linda Harris reunited 47 years after their Savannah, Ga. school was integrated for the first time. Slack and Harris were the first blacks to integrate the all-white Southern school and are now the subject of a documentary by Nichols titled, "The Token From Montgomery Cross Road." (Dona Nichols image)

High School Experience Becomes Desegregation Documentary

Phyllis Slack, Dona Hodge Nichols and Linda Harris reunited 47 years after their Savannah, Ga. school was integrated for the first time. Slack and Harris were the first blacks to integrate the all-white Southern school and are now the subject of a documentary by Nichols titled, "The Token From Montgomery Cross Road." (Dona Nichols image)

Phyllis Slack, Dona Hodge Nichols and Linda Harris reunited 47 years after their Savannah, Ga., school was integrated. Slack and Harris were the first blacks to attend the all-white Southern school and are now the subject of a documentary by Nichols titled, "The Token From Montgomery Cross Road." (Dona Nichols image)

Phyllis Slack thought nobody remembered her struggles as the first black student at all-white Bartlett Junior High School in Savannah, Ga., in 1965.

But Dona Hodge Nichols, now an instructor within SJSU’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, never forgot Slack. Nichols witnessed firsthand the torment Slack endured.

Forty-seven years later, Nichols reunited with Slack to feature her in a documentary on the year they spent together at Barlett.

Nichols and Slack will recount the turbulent South of the 1960s at a question-and-answer session 3 p.m. March 13 in DBH 213.

SJSU students and the public are welcome to attend this unique event intended to educate university students who know about the Civil Rights era only through history books and movies.

Slack was a witness to what many blacks faced during the turbulent 1960s in the South. Most school districts were still segregated more than a decade after the historic 1954 “Brown v. the Board of Education” decision and the Supreme Court ruling that separate schools are inherently unequal schools.

Nichols traveled to Georgia in January to interview Slack and other former Bartlett classmates. The documentary will focus on Slack and Savannah, the city Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the most desegregated city south of the Mason-Dixon Line.”

Cuban flag flying between colonial era buidings, Michael Cheers photo

Wheels Up to Cuba!

The "Wheels Up to Cuba!" group pose for a photo at SJSU before boarding a flight to the Caribbean nation (James Tensuan photo).

The "Wheels Up to Cuba!" group pose for a photo at SJSU before boarding a flight to the Caribbean nation (James Tensuan photo).

By Bob Rucker, Director, School of Journalism and Mass Communications & Broadcast Journalism Coordinator

For twelve days, from January 10th through 22nd, 32 SJSU students, faculty, and media professionals will visit the Caribbean nation on a very special learning experience to discover and study Cuba, its people, their concerns and life experiences in the 21st century. They will also be in Havana for the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Multimedia journalism professionals and media students will lead a cross-disciplinary academic group from SJSU’s College of Applied Sciences and Arts. They plan to work together, share their knowledge, training, and research skills, and creatively produce a special multimedia presentation in April 2012 that will include a website and blog, newspaper and broadcast news feature stories, photo essays, and a magazine detailing their Cuba travel experiences.

The goal is to listen, learn and share as much as they can about Cuba today: its successes and hardships; advances in nursing, healthcare, athletics, news reporting, and other areas; and explore global questions about Cuban society, business, law enforcement, and living conditions.

In recent years the Obama Administration has relaxed American travel restrictions to enable more Cuban educational missions. SJSU Photojournalism Professor and Cuba Trip Coordinator, Dr. Michael Cheers, traveled to Cuba during the summer of 2011, and made arrangements to bring a large group from San Jose State University back to Cuba.

Top Bay Area Latino community reporters are going along as guest professors. Joe Rodriquez from the San Jose Mercury News, and Rigo Chacon, three-time Bay Area Emmy Award winning TV journalist, have volunteered to help guide SJSU students identify stories, and conduct poignant interviews.

South Bay local businesses and Silicon Valley companies were asked to help sponsor this ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip. The cost per student on this special “Education: Wheels Up to Cuba” project is $3,050. Most students raised the money for their travel among family and community friends, or participated in Journalism School fundraisers last fall.

Photo of Arabic building through etch glass.

SJSU Documentary Receives Top Honors at CreaTiVE Awards

group shot, SJSU students in the foreground, sand dunes behind

Assistant Professor Diane Guerrazzi and seven students on SJSU's first faculty-led trip to a region of the world capturing headlines and captivating Americans (Desert Safari photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

“From the USA to the UAE,” a documentary produced by an SJSU School of Journalism and Mass Communications professor and seven students, received top honors in the “Educator” category at the CreaTiVE Awards held Jan. 7 at the California Theatre. The SJSU team visited the United Arab Emirates one year ago “keeping our sights set on cultural perception as perpetuated by the media,” Assistant Professor Diane Guerrazzi said. The group toured three emirates, interviewing cultural experts and media expats, as well as students, workers and shopkeepers. While their goal was to collect material capturing cultural differences and laws governing media content, “this is more than a study of media differences; this is an examination of a cultural divide, perceptions and misperceptions,” Guerrazzi said. The CreaTiVE Awards honors community media makers throughout the Bay Area who promote and celebrate individual expression, learning, diversity, arts and civic engagement. View “From the USA to the UAE.” Read the blog.

MFA Photo Exchange Students show two Russian Photographers in front of San Jose City Hall.

Photo Exchange Program Yields “Yekaterinburg and San Jose Through the Eyes of One Another”

MFA Photo Exchange Students show two Russian Photographers in front of San Jose City Hall.

Jennifer Easton, public arts manager from the San Jose Public Arts Program, guides MFA grad students and two Russian photographers at San Jose City Hall (Photo by Robin Lasser).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

When they received a call last October from the U.S. Consul General in Yekaterinburg, Russia, asking SJSU to take part in an international photo exchange program, professors Brian Taylor and Robin Lasser knew they had a great opportunity on their hands.

Photography chair Art Taylor explained why this particular exchange was different than most.

“Yekaterinburg and San Jose are sister cities,” Taylor said. “There have been other cultural exchanges where one city would send an artist here and we would send an artist there. But never have there been two photographers as part of an exchange. It’s definitely a first.”

Representing the United States, Lasser, Taylor, and SJSU alumna Adrienne Pao visited Yekaterinburg in May 2011. The Americans toured the Urals region of Russia and photographed Lasser and Pao’s Russian-style “dress tent” now on display in Yekaterinburg’s Natural History Museum, in various locations around the city.  Lasser and Pao have created an entire series of dress tents they describe as “wearable architecture” that is “installed and worn in the landscape in order to be photographed.”

Local Interpretations, Russian Impressions

Last week, two Russian photographers from Yekaterinburg, Sophia Nasyrova and Denis Tarasov, visited San Jose. Eight SJSU photo grad students in the Master of Fine Arts photography program worked alongside the Russian photographers as they traveled all over Northern California, giving their local interpretations in exchange for Russian impressions.

Sites included the Di Rosa Gatehouse Gallery in Napa, the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, downtown San Jose, Moffett Field, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Mare Island, a former Naval base in Vallejo that represents a shared common victory for the United States and Russia during the second World War.

“In shaping this international exchange and as the project lead, I tried to think of the long standing and historical relationship we’ve had with Russia,” Lasser said. “Places we visited explored not only the past relationships of military, church and state, but also and art and technology.”

The cultural experience in San Jose broke into philosophical discussions each night at dinner, where the photo grad students and Russian photographers shared historical and artistic perspectives. The Russian photographers brought a slideshow of the history of Russian photography as well as contemporary work.

Sister Cities

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed presented the two Russian photographers with plaques signed by all counsel members. Commendations were also given to credit their work and to commemorate the sister city relationship.

The photographs from this exchange will be exhibited on the Mayor’s Floor at City Hall this August. Simultaneously, the work will be displayed in Russia at the Metenkhov House Photo Museum. According to Lasser, a book on the project will be published in Moscow.

The SJSU  School of Art and Design offers two graduate degrees, the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Arts (MA) programs. An undergraduate degree in photojournalism is offered by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.