Editorial-The story goes on

Ginny McReynolds began advising the Express in 1986 after longtime journalism instructor/adviser Jean (Doc) Stephens retired.

By Danielle McKinney & Rose Vega

The student-run newspaper at City College has seen many seasons over the years and, as its staffs and advisers attest, will continue to evolve.

The paper originally started as Jottings, a three-page, two-sided mimeographed sheet in 1921, according to a history of the college, “Celebrating 100 Years: Sacramento City College.” Jottings became The Blotter in 1922 until its name changed—at the recommendation of the college’s first president Jeremiah Lillard—in 1929 to The Pony Express. The name changed again in 1972 when the paper dropped the “Pony” and shortened to just the Express.   

Pam Slater, editor-in-chief of the Express in spring 1972, was part of the group of people that changed the name of the newspaper.

“We were trying to figure out how to bring it into a more modern world, and so we decide to change it to just the Express,” said Slater.

Back then, Slater said, the newspaper ran a weekly print paper of 8 to 12 pages with advertisements, and the staff consisted of about 16 people, not including the editors. She said she became interested in journalism in elementary school and created a one page newsletter “South Land Park Post Script” after her initials, P.S., and was also co-editor for the Kennedy High School paper, the Clarion. Because of her experience on the Express, Slater was hired at The Sacramento Bee as a “copy girl” running stories from reporters to editors to the production staff and then spent 25 years as a reporter for The Bee.

“The best thing there was the newspaper adviser Tom McClelland—we called him Mac—and he was one of those people that never sat down. Always on the go, always teaching, always making everything better,” she said as she flipped through old copies of the Express. “I think truthfully that I learned everything about journalism from him.”

Tom McClelland came to City College as a teacher and newspaper adviser in 1969, filling in for journalism instructor Dr. Jean Stephens who was getting her doctorate.

“My job was to motivate them—make them want to learn. To teach a student to be a writer is difficult. I was never certain I could do it,” McClelland said in his memoir, “Job-Jumping Through Life.” “I turned out some excellent writers. I tried to give them plenty of writing assignments, critiquing their work, asking them to rewrite again and again.”

After McClelland left, Stephens returned to her former position as journalism instructor and Express adviser until 1986. Ginny McReynolds then took over as the department’s only teacher for several years and continued to advise the paper off and on until 2002.

“I was hired to replace Dr. Jean Stephens, who was retiring and had advised the Express [on and off] for 29 years,” said McReynolds. “She knew that the paper had to be computerized, but didn’t want to choose the computers for someone else. I really didn’t know what I was doing, but we bought a few Macs and went for it!”

For nearly 22 years, McReynolds taught a full load of classes in journalism, communication studies and English.

“I loved getting to work with students this closely. In a classroom, you meet students and work with them on papers and projects, but at the Express, or any college newspaper, you have the chance to work on an ongoing project,” said McReynolds. “It is inspiring to watch the students grow and develop. I got to grow in ways that I never would have if I’d only been in the classroom.”

Donnell Alexander, who was advised by both Stephens and McReynolds, held a variety of positions at the Express from 1986-1987, ranging from sports editor to editor-in-chief to managing editor. Alexander was originally a psychology major and took the newspaper production class on a whim.  

“It’s where I got my start,” said Alexander, who now co-hosts a podcast and publishes a newsletter, both called WeedWeek. “I’ve worked at ESPN and had films in sundance and I take everything back to the Express.”

Alexander described a typesetting class he took at City College in which he and his peers laid out copy. He said that after the articles were typed up, they would bring them back to the classroom and assemble the newspaper column by column.

While more recent journalism students have not had the experience of assembling a print paper by hand, the work is still hard and requires dedication.

“The experiences that you have at the beginning help you form your habits and your patterns,” said Alexander. “The work you do at the very beginning pays off at the end, and in some ways it’s some of the most important work that you do.”  

Some former staff writers have come full circle, such as Rachel Leibrock, who is now the current journalism professor and adviser for the American River College student-run newspaper, The Current. She was on the Express from 1988-1990—first as a staff writer and then features editor.

“What I remember from that time was really learning how a newsroom works and that collaborative sense of what makes a story,” said Leibrock, who went on to work for the Sacramento News & Review, eventually as its editor-in-chief, and for The Sacramento Bee. “What’s the best story for our paper? Or how do we serve our community? What are the stories that we tell to serve that community?”

Doug Herndon, current dean of English at ARC, was once a staff writer and editor-in-chief of the Express. Herndon started as a reporter in 1992 and became editor-in-chief in 1994. He came back as an instructional assistant while going to Sacramento State and later returned again as an advisor around 2005. Herndon said the paper taught him how to meet deadlines and work collaboratively with people.  

“I think the thing that my little crew is known for is a piece that we did on an AIDS hospice called Hope House,” said Herndon.

During the early ’90s, Hope House was being threatened with closure. Herndon and his staff went and talked to the people who ran Hope House and met 12 men who had come to live and die there.

“We were there most of every day for about four months, and I think even during that time we saw three of the guys that we got to know die,” said Herndon. “We kept covering Hope House until really everyone we knew there had died.”

Hope House was the focus of a special issue about AIDS for the Express and was then picked up by the Sacramento News & Review, The Sacramento Bee and local TV stations. Thanks to all the coverage, Hope House was able to stay open.

“It was kind of the best experience you could have as a young journalist for really seeing like, ‘Oh, this is good work to do in the world you can actually make a difference,’” said Herndon.

Herndon was among the group of journalists who experienced the beginnings of a more technologically advanced newsroom.

“We put the paper out on the very first Macintosh computers, which had little 7-inch screens,” said Herndon. “We would get so frustrated just trying to lay out a page 7 inches at a time that we would want to throw those computers out the window.”

Dianne Hiemer began her career as a part-time journalism adviser and instructor in 1995 and was hired full time in 1997.

“In the late ’90s is when major media outlets were waking up to the fact that digital news media is here to stay,” said Heimer. “They had to figure out a way to move primarily the print version on to online.”

Heimer was instrumental in digitizing the Express. She took a sabbatical to study how other media outlets transitioned to online and knew it was the direction the program needed to go.

In 2000 the Express started using Dreamweaver—which was really “shovelware,” Heimer said, meaning that the staff took the same content from the print edition and put it online.

“I thought it was critical for our program for out students to be trained not only in reporting, not only in news writing but now this new part of journalism, which was online,” said Heimer.

Current Express advisers Jan Haag and Randy Allen note that the Express for several years has primarily been an online paper with student editors daily loading articles and photos onto the website (saccityexpress.com), then adding new material to its monthly print editions.

As the Express staff bids farewell to the print version of the Express and as preparations for the fall 2019 semester in the journalism department are underway, the question being asked is what impact will the digitization of journalism have?

“I think it’s [journalism] has always been evolving to this direction, and I think that we shouldn’t fight it but to go there and bring all the talent,” said Slater. “There’s so much talent from journalists and reporters and photographers, and I think even though that we are not going to be holding the paper in our hand, it’ll be a wonderful product in the end.”

The transition to being a fully online Express has been in the works since Heimer and her students launched the earliest digital version almost 20 years ago.

“It’s strange, but it’s time,” said Heimer. “Even in the last two or three years, the students here—like the Gen Zers don’t understand journalism in the form of a print newspaper. They’re informed, they keep up with what’s going on, but they do that completely online.”

While readers will no longer be able to pick up a physical copy of the Express, student journalism at City College will continue.

“The stories will always be there,” said Leibrock. “It’s just how you tell the stories is going to change a little bit. How you present the story might change a little bit, but the content is still there.”

Don’t harsh the vibe, man—SN&R’s guide to dispensary etiquette will have you in and out with high fives from the budtender

Photo Illustration courtesy of SN&R.

When a number of Sacramento cannabis dispensaries received their recreational business licenses, longtime consumers witnessed eager first-time buyers pack waiting rooms during the first weeks of January 2018.

But with more adult users (you must be 21 years or older) visiting dispensaries, there’s something to be said for common courtesy, especially when it comes to better preparing for a trip to pick up some pre-rolls and edibles. The budtenders will thank you, and so will other customers. SN&R turns to the experts behind the counter for some tips on dispensary etiquette to help make the experience a positive one for all involved.

Be mindful

A trip to a dispensary can be a new and exciting experience. For some, it may even feel like entering a 420-version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But it’s also important to be aware that there are medical patients who are there to pick up prescriptions to help treat serious illnesses. Customers buy everything from CBD salves to help relax muscles to cannabis flowers that promote appetite after chemotherapy.

“Everyone is in the dispensary for different reasons,” says Danny Kress, dispensary manager at A Therapeutic Alternative in Midtown. “We might have somebody who is there because they have golf this weekend with friends and then we might have somebody coming in with cancer, and we just want to be really mindful and be sensitive about the people around us.”

Pro tip: Keep the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure-banter to a minimum.

Silence the cellphone

No one wants to be stuck listening to someone’s loud phone conversation. And it’s especially annoying when you’re in a confined space.

“Dispensaries are a no cellphone zone,” says Forrest Heise, dispensary director at Green Solutions. “You can text in the lobby, browse the internet, be on social media—that’s cool. But no phone calls in the building at all.”

Feel free to quietly enjoy your screen time while you wait in the lobby, but in the budroom there’s a different set of rules. “Definitely no cellphones at all in the budroom. If you’ve got your phone out and you’re taking pictures, I think you’re casing the place. I get paranoid,” Heise says. “It’s a courtesy thing.”

Pro tip: Don’t look suspicious. Silence cellphones and keep them in a purse or pocket when in the budroom.

Bring cash

Although cannabis is legal at the state level, it’s still illegal under federal law, cutting dispensaries off from major banks and credit card companies. Therefore, bring cash. Most dispensaries operate on a cash-only basis. For those who forget, some conveniently have ATMs on site. But not all of them do, so hit the bank before you visit.

Pro tip: Avoid the ATM fees and bring Andrew Jackson along for the ride.

Calm and collected

It’s totally normal to feel nervous, especially if you don’t know what to expect from one dispensary to another. But hey, overthinking doesn’t help ease the mind. Head into the dispensary with a positive attitude and an open mind, and your visit is sure to be a more enjoyable one.

“Dispensaries can be intimidating as a thought,” Kress says. “A lot of places it’s very welcoming, very warm. It’s a comfortable environment that should be something that people look forward to coming in to, not something that builds anxiety. This is the place to get away from that.”

Pro tip: Think about all the products made to calm nerves and anxiety such as CBD gummies and massage oils.

Do the research

Heise says that much has changed over the last 20 years—and with that roar of change brings a million questions.

For people who have stayed away from cannabis up until legalization, the spectrum of offerings can be overwhelming. If you don’t know where to begin, simply browse a dispensary’s website, which often includes a menu that showcases its latest inventory. There, you can get a pretty good idea of the different types of products and their uses.

“We’ll answer some questions over the phone,” Heise says. “If you’ve got a million questions, come down and talk to us. I don’t mind doing a little phone consultation but for the full experience come in and we’ll answer all your questions.”

Pro tip: Visit a dispensary’s online menu to get familiar with products in stock.

Ask questions

Whether you refer to them as budtenders or cannabis counselors, any professional working behind the counter at a dispensary is an expert in cannabis and is there to tend to your medicinal—or recreational—needs. A lot of dispensaries host workshops on plant care and cultivation, and wellness classes such as reiki and sound therapy.

Budtenders are constantly expanding their knowledge as cannabis culture evolves. But as informed and knowledgeable as they are, you won’t get the answers you’re seeking if you don’t ask questions.

“Come in with questions. There’s no bad questions or stupid questions,” Kress says. “Come in looking for an education. The person that you’re talking to should be able to answer your questions.”

Pro tip: Asking questions is a great way to build a relationship with your budtenders.

Originally published at https://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/dont-harsh-the-vibe-man/content?oid=28025464

Writing her own story; Marianna Sousa honors her self healing by publishing ‘refreshing self-help guide’ for today’s generation

Marianna Sousa, published author of Own Your Sh*t.
Photo by Megan Horn » mhorn.express@gmail.com

As Marianna Sousa walks from class to class, she is greeted with waves and “hello”s from fellow students. She is well known around City College from her time serving as student body president. The 39-year-old communication major jumped into the college pool with both feet after mentors, friends and loved ones encouraged her to continue her education. When she began her college journey, she wouldn’t have guessed that by her final semester she would be a published author.

Sousa enrolled in classes at City College in 2015 with the goal of achieving her ultimate career dream of fusing her two areas of focus: communication and journalism. With the right mindset and encouragement from professors, Sousa recalls that she began to thrive.

“I got a great transition into some awesome communication professors,” Sousa says. “Kim Church was really big in helping me understand my power through speech and debate. Professor Heimer was instrumental in my journalism. She referred me to some really great internship programs.”

After the completion of two local internships—the Sacramento Voices program and the other through NPR’s Next Gen internship—she found herself budding with knowledge and was inspired to write. Sousa’s passion for written word and love and affinity for multimedia journalism was born.

“I got really clear that journalism and storytelling was the route,” she says.

Sousa went on to take everything she learned over the course of her academic experience and used it to create a workbook. Over the last year she produced her book, “Own Your Shit.” The book is the product of Sousa’s personal struggles and traumas transformed into a 50-page self-healing guide. It’s broken down into three parts.

“The first part is memoir writing. I learned from a sociology professor the importance of knowing who you are in society is to begin with your own story telling,” Sousa explains. “A lot of us want to be successful and overcome things, but we don’t look back at our history. In that is encoded our trauma and the negative things that affect why we do or don’t believe certain things about ourselves.”

The second part of her book connects struggles to symptoms such as anxiety and depression. The third segment analyzes how the symptoms show up in choices, deficiencies and challenges, according to Sousa.

“It took a year of working it on myself then sharing it with other people,” says Sousa. “As I was healing myself, I started providing workshops and sessions for other people. I started giving to other people what I gave myself, just administering it.”

In Sousa’s first year at City College, she found herself immersed in leadership after her sociology professor suggested she run for student body president. Sousa campaigned and won.

“I’m heavily involved in leadership in the community through activism, but I had never taken up such a formal route. After I got into it, I realized I was definitely built for leadership on this level.”

After serving as president Sousa took on the role of student trustee for all Los Rios colleges, making her the student representative of nearly 80,000 students.

“A lot of people don’t realize when you are in high level leadership you have your own struggles too,” says Sousa. “It’s your job to be the positive representation—not that you don’t have those struggles, but it’s not part of the job to be so open about what you’re struggling with.”

There was a point in Sousa’s journey where her plate was full: She was a full time student, the student trustee for the Los Rios colleges and dealing with family matters that were weighing on her heart. On top of all that, she was nearly homeless. She began falling into depression.

“I was falling apart, and a lot of people didn’t know.”

“Luckily I had an adviser that let me know there is an emergency fund that students can get on campus. That emergency fund helped me to get into a facility (so) that I was not going to be a homeless student.”

Sousa’s fight for her own inner balance led her to undertake what some may consider the toughest job of all: her own healing.

“I realized it’s not enough to look at memes online to inspire you to get mentally and emotionally accountable for the emissions you put out there,” says Sousa. “In working with students and the community, I realized mental health is on a rise because people’s lifestyles are getting harder.”

She began chipping away at a personal project in an effort to transform her wounds.

“I wanted to create a workbook. A lot of the exercises and things that are in it don’t come from this ‘holier than thou’ place. They were literally tools and methods I would pick up from different healers or speakers and maybe modify them in a way that would work for me.”

Sousa says that writing her book helped her heal emotionally.

“I dedicated it to my daughter so as we get on our healing path more and more she’ll know that I not only used this tool for myself and others, but I wrote it as a gift for her as well.”

As Sousa’s time at City College is coming to a close, she plans to take what she has experienced and learned and amplify it.

“In coming to the end of this whole journey I realized the power of reaching—in any capacity, in any role,” Sousa says. “Whether it’s student to student reaching for help in comradery to get through a struggle. Whether it’s student to professor, student to admin. My reach was everything.”


Originally published at http://saccityexpress.com/writing-her-own-story-marianna-sousa-honors-her-self-healing-by-publishing-the-story-of-her-journey/