Qwestion & Answer with Rachele Kanigel, Professor and Chair of the Journalism Department at San Francisco State University

Madelynne Kislovsky February 8, 2021

Qwoted is committed to exploring the current state of the media by speaking to industry leaders and educating future generations of media professionals. What has social media and technological innovation brought to the table? What can we expect for the future of journalism?

Journalism Professor and Chair of SFSU's Journalism Department, Rachele Kanigel.

Rachele Kanigel graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. During and after her undergrad, Kanigel was a reporter at Contra Costa Times, covering health, medicine, and science stories for about four years. Following her time there, Kanigel worked as a health/science reporter at the Oakland Tribune from 1993 to 1997. It was then that Kanigel started to share her knowledge with students, as she began to teach part time at her alma mater, San Francisco State University. She would further her education at Columbia University, earning a master’s degree in Journalism. In 2004, Kanigel went on to teach full time and advise the student newspaper at SFSU, Golden Gate Xpress, all while continuing to cover health and medical news as a freelancer. She has written for publications including TIME, U.S. News & World Report, San Francisco, Health and Prevention. For the past 17 years, Kanigel has spent her time at SFSU, earning the title of Chair of the Journalism Department in August of 2019. Kanigel is also past president of College Media Association. She has written several journalism textbooks and handbooks, including The Student Newspaper Survival Guide and The Diversity Style Guide. She also currently serves on Qwoted’s Media Advisory Board.

 

“It is an amazing thing to help young journalists find their voices. It’s also a thrill as a journalist to give voices to people whose stories might otherwise not be told.” 

-Rachele Kanigel

 

What advice would you give to aspiring young writers and reporters?

RK: Read, read, read. You can’t learn to write and tell stories if you don’t read.

What are you hearing from your students or members about their ambitions and hopes for the profession?

RK: They hope it will survive and that there will be jobs for them when they graduate.

If there’s one thing you could change or improve about journalism—in any area—what might that be and why?

RK: I’d like to see media organizations hire and promote more people of color, particularly in leadership roles. The relative lack of diversity in most newsrooms today is troubling, especially considering how the demographics of the country are changing. Most newsrooms look nothing like the communities they cover.

The profession of journalism feels more attacked today than in a long time, but also highly necessary. Do you feel that’s true, and if so, why?

RK: Yes, journalism is under attack. It’s hard to imagine a time when journalism was more important. With the abuses from former administrations, the pandemic raging around us, and people demanding racial justice in the streets, we need good journalism more than ever.

What do you see as some of journalism’s biggest potential pitfalls? And what gives you hope for the future of journalism?

RK: The loss of trust in the news media is deeply disturbing. I think most journalists try hard to get the story and get it right, but reputable news outlets have been tainted by political leaders as “fake news”. There is some fake news out there, but it’s mostly spread by fake journalists.

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