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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

SMC Alum Stephanie Forshee Releases Journalism Book In Other News: Reporters on Reporting


What are you doing now? (please share about your current book release and anything you’d like to share about your current life experience)

I work as a journalist with American Lawyer Media in New York. I write for Corporate Counsel magazine as a staff reporter where I cover corporate litigation and consumer protection laws. I love my job, and it's allowed me for the first time to truly focus on enterprise stories and look for opportunities for impact. My colleague from the San Fernando Valley Business Journal, Rosie Downey, and I completed our debut book, In Other News: Reporters on Reporting this spring. The book profiles 12 journalists from reputable outlets like the Los Angeles Times, NPR, the Chicago Tribune, BuzzFeed, The Washington Post and others. Each chapter takes a look inside the reporter's career, and is intended to educate and motivate aspiring journalists. The book is available on Amazon.com, which is of course amazing. But my real dream come true is having it available from Barnes & Noble. I am such a fan of all of the incredible journalists we interviewed, and I learned something from each of them. I've been in journalism for six years, and it motivated me and taught me a lot, so I'm hopeful that folks just starting out in the field will find many helpful takeaways. 

 

What about your experience at Santa Monica College influenced or effected your life, and your current work?

Santa Monica College tremendously impacted my career. It was there that I started my journalism "career" learning from talented professors, working at my first newspaper (The Corsair) where I was a writer and later the news editor, gaining internship experience, networking at conferences like JACC and laying the foundation for my professional career in journalism. 

I was also able to enjoy other aspects of SMC like the study abroad program to Greece I participated in during the summer of 2010, led by Eleni Hioureas and the late Jim Stramel. It was one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life, and I will never forget it. The group is still in touch, and that includes Eleni Hioureas and Jim Stramel until he passed away. He will be greatly missed. 

 

Was there any one faculty or staff member that you’d like to give a shout out to that had a positive influence on your life?

Both Sharyn Obsatz and Saul Rubin were actively involved in my journalism education when I was a student there. They taught me so much, and I remember my days at SMC fondly. Sharyn helped shape me into who I am as a reporter. I took her class for Journalism 101, so she truly was one of the first journalism mentors I ever had. She encouraged me to attend the Asian American Journalists Association conference (and assured me it was OK to attend even though I’m not Asian). I was able to make solid connections there, and met an editor at Daily Breeze, where I landed my very first internship as a features and business reporting intern. Since graduation, she's been a cheerleader for me and my career as I've worked my way up, as they say. When I ran a Kickstarter last fall to raise funds for my book, In Other News, Sharyn was spreading the word on social media like crazy. It did not go unnoticed. It's nice to know that professors and students don't always have to part ways at the end of a semester. 

My second semester, I met Saul when I joined The Corsair, and he was an incredible leader for the newspaper staff. He entrusted a lot of faith in us, even as students. And he selected me as one of the journalists to attend the annual JACC conference (twice), which changed my life. There, I met so many other students, professors and mentors who enjoyed journalism and believed it was their calling. The conferences were very inspiring and educational. I was assured that there is a future in this field and I decided to pursue it.

 

Do you have any words of wisdom you would share with future alumni (our current students) at SMC?

If you are interested in becoming a reporter, join The Corsair. And if you do, take it seriously, because even though it is run by students, it is more or less the same experience you’ll need when you enter a newsroom run by “grown-ups” in the real world. Always strive to be better, and never stop investing in your education--be it community college courses, industry trade shows, local one-day workshops in your industry, MeetUps, reading tips online, you name it. If it is going to help you get ahead in your career, make time for it. And if you really want to be a journalist, know that PR people are always going to make more money than you. Don't let it tempt you to "the dark side." Doing great journalism is worth it. I promise.

 

What’s next? 

I’ve been a journalist full-time for more than five years now, and I’m still learning. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I decided to write In Other News: Reporters on Reporting with my friend Rosie. When I was a student at SMC, I kept wishing: "I wish there was a how-to on how to be a journalist. I don't want to read a bunch of journalists' memoirs. I want the good stuff about their careers--how these journalists got their first gig, how they handled the pressure of interviewing hard-to-get sources, how they learned new digital skills and eventually worked their way to the top." And so, to some extent, that's what we've created. I can't emphasize enough that writing this book was as much a learning experience for me as it will be to readers. Right now, we're in talks with various professors at colleges and universities across the country who are interested in using In Other News as a tool for their classrooms. I'm proud to say that SMC's Sharyn Obsatz was the very first professor to confirm she will be assigning my book to her students this upcoming fall. That just means the world to me. Aside from the book, I'm plugging away everyday to write stories that make a difference. It will take me a few more years, but I'm looking forward to the day when I'm named a full-time investigative reporter. 

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