The Oak Leaf
Students are strongly encouraged to spend a semester (or four) on The Oak Leaf, SRJC’s student-produced, award-winning newsmedia. In print since 1928, The Oak Leaf has won General Excellence at the state level multiple times. In 2018 it was awarded the Pacesetter award, given to colleges who win most awards, by the Journalism Association of Community Colleges. Six students were also finalists for the California Newspaper Publishers Association awards, competing with commercial publications statewide for the honor. Oak Leaf students cover SRJC news, produce The Oak Leaf magazine and print editions of The Oak Leaf newspaper as well as providing a constant newsflow online at the theoakleafnews.com website. Besides writing and editing, Oak Leaf students build skills in photography, podcasting, design and layout, social media reporting, mobile journalism, audio/video production and more. Each year, Oak Leaf students have the option to attend regional and state journalism conferences where they participate in professional workshops and on-the-spot competitions. See testimonials below.
Rosa Roots Magazine
The Journalism Program expanded in 2015/16 to include a new online magazine, Rosa Roots, where SRJC journalism students can submit articles. The magazine article writing/production class produces and markets content for Rosa Roots; plans are in the works to have magazine classes year-round.
Journalism Program/Oak Leaf Testimonials
"I came to SRJC after getting expelled from the University of California. I was certainly at my lowest point, and really wasn’t sure what to do to pick myself back up. I can’t guarantee that journalism is the magic bullet that turns around lives like it did for me, but I know without a doubt that Anne Belden used that program to help me come to terms with what gives me purpose and what makes me happy. The journalism program is an entry-level course, but students serious about making it in the world of media can’t afford to not take this course. The learning curve can be intimidating, but the program and its professors give their all to give their students a chance in the competitive professional market.
I came to SRJC without purpose and left with job offers in newspapers and magazines. It’s a continuous learning experience, but SRJC’s journalism program gives the edge students need to get their foot in the door and get hired."
William Rohrs, deputy editor, NorthBay biz Magazine
"The journalism courses I took at the Santa Rosa Junior College gave me a huge head start in my journalism degree and subsequent career. Not only did I learn the basic principles of news reporting and writing, I also dipped my feet in multimedia journalism and gained experience as a published writer through the student newspaper, The Oak Leaf. These learning opportunities set me apart when I transferred to San Francisco State University as a journalism student."
Nashelly Chavez, staff reporter, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat
"I tried a Journalism class on a whim, and learned more about writing from my next three semesters with SRJC's Journalism program than I had learned in my entire academic career. The hands-on experience I gained from working with instructor Anne Belden and class colleagues on The Oak Leaf newspaper led to the development of stronger communication skills, the ability to deal with interpersonal relationships and important industry tips, like maintaining a list of sources.
The option to choose the beat you cover allowed me to explore my preferences across several areas of journalism, meet many different people and write on a wide variety of subjects. I accepted a part-time newspaper job offer during my second semester at The Oak Leaf, and in the two years since then, I have written for six other publications and accepted the full-time journalist position I maintain now."
Devin Marshall, Sonoma West Publishers (former)
"My time at The Oak Leaf and in SRJC's Journalism program prepared me for life beyond in two ways. First, journalism is the study of imparting information and knowledge to an audience. The classes, including The Oak Leaf lab classes, taught me to hone in on the salient points of a report and how to increase the reader's understanding. For stories, I would dismantle an entire budget or union debate and give the audience the ability to understand the complex issues. This ability is different from an English paper that gives an entire overview and argument, and focuses instead on bringing the reader along a short but important distance in understanding. I exercise these skills often in my research groups studying particle physics detector development when I give presentations. We have a shared knowledge of the previous work, and need a quick overview to give my report context. This is the same formula I used in covering the budget at SRJC. The public had a growing knowledge with each story that came out, so my next story focused on building on the knowledge. I often sit through presentations that repeat our shared knowledge or give us no context for the report and I think journalism helps an author understand how to communicate more effectively.
Second the lab classes on The Oak Leaf paper gave me far more experience with coworkers and being accountable for the work I did. No other program that I am aware of at SRJC gives students as much time to work together as The Oak Leaf. It wasn't just working as a team that I learned from, I also learned to deal with differences in opinion much better by being on staff. I highly recommend the being on a staff for any student, and commonly recommend to students here at UCSC. In publishing a newspaper, we the writers and editors are accountable for our content to the public. When we missed half the story and gave a biased report of an incident, or had offensive pictures we approved in oversight, we had to answer for them. Standing behind my work, or retracting it in light of angles we had not considered, was one of my most important lessons at SRJC."
Benjamin Gruey, UCSC student