As part of a new inclusive series of workshops with real-world impact, the Media and Communications program and the Center for Integrated Humanities recently welcomed investigative reporter, Claudia Vargas, to speak with students.
Formerly with the Philadelphia Inquirer’s investigative team, Vargas joined NBC10 in 2020 where she contributes reports as part of the weekday news. Vargas is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and is a former governor of Pen and Pencil Club, which is one of America’s oldest and most renowned press clubs. Over her career, her reporting has been impactful leading to policy reform, and substantive change. She shared some of that experience and insight with students, telling them that while reporting requires hard work “it is a meaningful and worthwhile career.” That is especially true, Vargas noted, when you can have a real, tangible impact like the one she is hoping to achieve with her new true-crime series, “Who Killed Barbara Jean?”
The series revolves around the unsolved murder of Barbara Jean Horn, a four-year-old girl who was killed over 30 years ago in Northeast Philadelphia. During the class, students had the opportunity to watch clips from the series and ask questions revolving around the production process, how it came to be, and asking the tough questions of those involved such as Barbara Jean’s parents and the man convicted and later exonerated of the murder, Walter Ogrod.
The Vargas visit proved to be incredibly insightful to Marina Favacchia, Editor-In-Chief of The Griffin Student Newspaper. “I believe that her approach can help my staff and I remember that when interviewing people, we need to treat them with respect because we are going to these people for their insight and opinions,” Favacchia said. “It is necessary that we take the proper steps to show our interviewees that their words are valued when we conduct our reports on whatever topics we intend to cover.”
The Griffin, CHC’s longstanding student paper, is just one of CHC’s production outlets that seek to give aspiring reporters a chance to have exciting experiences with the platforms and fields they will work in one day. Others include the student multi-media production team, Griffin Media, and the brand-new Griffin Public Relations team. Formerly student clubs, these teams have been developed to have a more real-world approach.
According to Gail Ramsay, assistant professor of Media and Communication, the trio of teams is designed to provide an “inclusive series of experiential learning opportunities for students across the college in the form of production workshops linked to production outlets.”
While each their own entities, the teams have plans to collaborate on various projects, much the way one would at a professional news or media organization.
“I can tell you that Griffin Media and The Griffin have been working closely together to produce some of my staff’s written content that will be visually and audibly accessible,” Favacchia said when speaking about the collaboration. Professor Katya Gorker and John Wright, the student programming and production coordinator of Griffin Media echoed these sentiments, expressing that their intention is to give writers a chance to explain more about their content on the media platform to add another dimension to workshops.
Through The Griffin, Griffin Media, and Griffin PR, students are immersed in the world of media and communication, helping prepare them for future careers. And professional visits/connections such as the Vargas visit, are just the beginning of the learning experiences planned for students this year and beyond.
Dana Potts SGS '24