As someone who's always had an interest in the journalism world, taking a look at the press industry can be scary! From having an idea, to the execution of it, it can be intimidating in a vast industry with so many others who share your same goal: getting published! While it can be discouraging, it's always a nice treat to hear others' successes. Recently, The Windjammer had the honor of welcoming alumni Natalie Hernadez, professional journalist, back to campus to meet the newest generation of Windjammer staff.
“It all started here at Mayfair,” Natalie says, “Mrs. McDaniel was a big reason why I fell in love with journalism.” Before graduating from Mayfair in 2017, Natalie found journalism to be a passion of hers for a handful of reasons: getting the opportunity to connect with others and learn more about her community was a huge green flag, admiring the passion of others for the craft itself was a motivation as well. Getting recognized for her divine pieces by her peers was her motivation. “I was never a math person, I was always an English and history girlie… I think if I never pursued my current career, I would definitely be somewhere in the forensic science space (shout out to Mr. Suttle).”
“[After graduating], I jumped around a lot from school to school because it was so chaotic”. She shares her experience at Biola and how at her time of attending the journalism department, the chair wasn't fair with his students. Cost was also a large issue for her. “Through all of that though, I just kept pushing. Taking advantage of the opportunities I think helped a lot as well… I think in order to push forward, you have to get over yourself. You're not that big of a deal. When you're with a publication, you have to remember you're not just doing it for you, you're doing it for others.”
“I would say in terms of who is contributing, this industry is very female dominated, but I think at times the people above us are typically male.” A study done at the University of Oxford found that the top majority of editorial staff in the press industry are male. According to Zippia.com, 55% of reporters are female. “I think having men in leadership roles can be a lot, especially in spaces with so many women under you.” Of these numbers, Forbes has come forward with statistics on people of color in journalism; Natalie being Latina. From Forbes, “According to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey, 76% of journalists surveyed were white, 8% identified as Hispanic, 6% as Black and only 3% as Asian.” Natalie goes on to explain the importance of allowing diverse voices onto the scene; “That’s the soul of it all, it's about the people and the community”.
Since starting her career, Natalie can be found involved in plenty of student publications such as: The Chimes with Biola, Daily 49er with California State University Long Beach, and the Spanish side of California State University Long Beach’s paper, DÍG en Español. On November 3rd, 2023, Natalie earned the pleasure of being published with the Los Angeles Times with her story talking about the importance of folklórico and how introducing it allows students to connect with their culture. “Working with the LA Times has got to be one of my biggest successes, and shooting with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Those are my two biggest accomplishments as a journalist and photographer.”
Natalie went on to explain the process in which she was published with De Los, LA Times’ Latin and Spanish Culture column. Out of 12 ideas pitched to editors, 8 were choses and written up. “I was the one who had my story done, so I think the experience had a lot to do with how bad you want things sometimes. All of my other classmates had their stories but didn't submit them as fast as I did… One of the biggest things is staying on your game. I was making edits to my story the day of receiving them from the editor at LA Times. If you're not on top of things, they just won’t want to work with you. When you have the ambition and initiative to stay on top of things, you're golden”.
“In the future, I really hope to keep working with De Los. I think it’s important to get to know others and their stories… Whether it be in entertainment, whether it be in sports, for me it's storytelling and diving into who people are and where they come from.” On behalf of The Windjammer, I want to thank Natalie for this opportunity and for allowing me to dive into your story. I find her story inspiring as a woman of color in the industry as she continues to navigate as a student journalist.