Day 11 – We truly became a family

Mosaic staff writer Joelle Dong listens intently as she interviews a subject in Palo Alto. // Photo by Rachel Lee, Mosaic Staff Photographer

Mosaic staff writer Joelle Dong listens intently as she interviews a subject in Palo Alto. // Photo by Rachel Lee, Mosaic Staff Photographer

By Joelle Dong, Mosaic Staff Writer

Summing up Mosaic seems impossible. I don’t think I quite have the distance to really reflect, but I know that I made some wonderful memories during the past two weeks.

Working on my stories was an incredible experience, and I learned so much about interviewing. I learned that when you trust that people want to have their stories heard, they’ll trust you to tell them. I learned that the less you talk, the more your interviewee will, and I realized the hard and beautiful truth of journalistic selectivity.

At first, the need to siphon off detail hurt. I wanted to do the people in my story justice, and was mistaken in thinking that the only way to do so was to capture everything. But then I realized that though there is no all encompassing article, and that it is fully possible to write an entire story in 750 words. And this is the harsh beauty of journalism. It is a beautiful responsibility and privilege to determine the most important aspects of a story, and it is this privilege that makes journalism a craft.

With my stories on Clean Slate and Pain, I reduced my rough draft by over a thousand words each. It hurt to see the words go, but in the end it was very refreshing as the stories got cleaner.

Rob was a really great editor, he helped me accept that you can’t try to tell every aspect of a story, and taught me how to write ledes for events, and how to streamline my sentences. I have a tendency to write too much and be repetitive.

Reporting was so much fun. I got to go on the field at a San Jose Giants game and talk with local hero Tim Watson and his family, was able to hear incredible stories from people at a Clean Slate meeting, and got to sit in on a tattoo removal treatment.

Besides the journalistic aspect of Mosaic, it was a ton of fun. All of our class gets along really well and I’m sure that the friendship won’t end tomorrow. We truly became a family.

The only things that could have made Mosaic better would have been better internet access, more fruits and veggies and more sleep.

I am sure that the memories made during the past two weeks will truly, and please excuse the cliche, last a lifetime.


Day 10 – Wi-Fi, why did you disappear?

The Wi-Fi panic in the SJSU dorms ended by 9:50 p.m. // Snapchat by Adele Shen

The Wi-Fi panic in the SJSU dorms ended by 9:50 p.m. // Snapchat by Adele Shen

By Jacky Tsang, Mosaic Staff Writer

Deadline is today. Fortunately, I was only up until 1:30 A.M. working on my story.

When I went back to my dorm at 6:30 P.M., I was a little worried for my story; I was confused and I wasn’t sure how to approach. I decided to put it off until I ate dinner. This gave me more time to think and process what I should write about.

However, I faced even more problems afterwards. I was frustrated, and I continued to do more research, which only helped slightly. I finally started after I made the decision to change the angle of my story. But then, the internet shut down, at around 9 P.M., and I fell asleep too since I couldn’t do anything.

I think I fell asleep from frustration because I never fall asleep too early. I guess it was because the story was due the very next day in the morning, and I didn’t even have a single word down. And having no wifi rendered me useless, and I was really mad. In a world with internet, it’s hard to go a day without it, especially if you need it to risk getting yelled at by your editor.

At around 11 P.M., I woke up, with news from my dorm mates that the internet came back. I worked quickly and rapidly, editing at the same time. I polished and corrected and made sure my story made sense.

Finally, at 1:30am, I finished. I decided not to sleep because I just didn’t want to. I wanted to watch something on Netflix, but I recently finished watching my favorite T.V. show, Scandal, so I didn’t know what to do.

Actually, when I finished Scandal, my life felt empty and I seriously didn’t know what to do. At the same time, I’m glad I finished it before yesterday night’s frustration. I would’ve been too distracted watching Scandal rather than doing my work.
Anyways, working under deadline wasn’t too bad. I finished on time, and I could’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, but I decided to watch YouTube videos afterwards. Honestly, I waste a lot of time doing nothing, and I really should spend time with these people because we’re all leaving soon in less than three days.

Day 9 – Are we all just mad here?

Matt Pinkney battles against the deadline as he rushes to finish his first story. // Photo by Brian Nguyen

Matt Pinkney battles against the deadline as he rushes to finish his first story. // Photo by Brian Nguyen

By Matt Pinkney, Mosaic Staff Writer

As deadline approaches, it’s natural to switch between thinking “Oh God, how am I going to finish on time?” and “So, what’s next?”  At school, this means thinking about what my story for the next issue.

At Mosaic, though, there is no next issue.  After we go to print, that’s it.  Done.  Goodbye San Jose State, goodbye newsroom, welcome back to a regular summer.  So my “what’s next?” has to be taken up by larger things.

I want to be a writer.  It’s something I enjoy doing and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since middle school.  But writing is one of those skills with a lot of applications.  What can you use writing for?  More accurately, what can’t you use it for?  If I want to write for a living, there’s a million different ways to do that.

But I think when I say “I want to write,” most people know what I mean.  I want my job to be writing.  In an English-y sort of way.

Fiction is one way to do that.  And it does have a certain glamour attached to it, if only for nerdy, book-loving kids like me.  And I’ve taken steps to make that happen.  My first novel, Birth by Flame, is going to be published this fall.  It’s an exciting prospect.  But, most professional authors have a certain quality about them.  A certain “I’m already financially stable” quality that I don’t.

Journalism is another way to write for a living.  And it seems more economically viable!  Yet I’m still in that gray area of not knowing what I want to do.  Call it teenage angst or indecision or shake your walking stick at “them gosh-darn millennials,” but I’m still just a kid, really.

This article doesn’t make things any easier for me.  It lists the ten careers with the highest concentration of people with psychopathic tendencies.  And journalist is sitting comfortably at number 6 on that list.

At first, I was a little shocked.  The professional journalists I’ve met and worked with certainly don’t seem like psychopaths.  So I did a little digging as to what “psychopathic tendencies” really are.

One study lists three main symptoms of psychopathy that can be observed to varying degrees.  These are boldness, disinhibition and meanness.

Boldness is definitely something journalists have in abundance.  How many times have I been told to get out there, get that story, dig deeper, be curious?  I ask because I’ve lost track myself.

Disinhibition is a trickier thing to grasp.  It’s described as “poor impulse control” among other things.  I can’t see that as a specific trait in the journalists I know, but I guess it can happen.

Now, meanness.  It’s not really what you might think.  It’s not being actively malicious; it’s more having a lack of empathy.  And…I can see that in a lot of journalists.  We have empathy and form close attachments with each other.  At Mosaic, we were all friends within a few minutes of meeting each other.  But, we can’t really have empathy towards our stories.  You have to report the objective truth and you might have to deal with extremely emotional situations.  And you have to do all of this while remaining neutral.  Eventually, I think you just get desensitized.

So, maybe it’s not a matter of psychopaths being drawn to journalism.  Maybe it’s a matter of journalism producing psychopaths.

But, then again, maybe everyone in this newsroom is just waiting to crack.  Whatever the case, I don’t think I’ll be sticking around in this profession long enough to find out.

Or maybe I will!  It’s fun and exciting and the people here are all genuinely great people I want to be great friends with.  Does this mean they aren’t psychopaths?  Or are we all just mad here?

Day 2 – Be aggressive

Mosaic staff writer Shannon Yang works on her story before deadline.

Mosaic staff writer Shannon Yang works on her story before deadline. // Photo by Creo Noveno

By Shannon Yang, Mosaic Staff Writer

Today I did my first ever Mosaic interview. I’m working on a story about a coding summer program, so I interviewed one of the co-founders by phone.

At first, I was very nervous and I didn’t know how to approach the interview. I had no idea what to ask. I was stalking his company and his summer program over the internet, and I knew more than normal people would because my brother and many of my friends are hackers in his circle, and I even know some people who had gone through the program.

But then I realized my knowledge was only skin deep. I knew what they were doing but I didn’t really understand why. Or why it was cool. Or anything deeper, really. So that’s what I set out to do. I came up with a list of a ton of questions.

My editor, Marcos, told me that I didn’t sound confident. I needed to kick ass and rock his socks over the phone and sound like I was more than just a 15-year-old. After all, this co-founder saw people my age kicking ass by making cool apps. Marcos also told me to not procrastinate, and to never fall into teenage wasteland. I was a journalist, not just a 15-year-old.

This guy, the co-founder, was a chill guy in his early twenties, and he understood many of the realities of youth today. He was easy to talked to – and he liked to talk. One of my challenges ended up being trying to retain all of his quotes.

But I’ll admit, they weren’t the best questions. I asked things like, “How much money did you guys make?” which he didn’t tell me. But he did tell me about the faults in the traditional educational system, and how he was frustrated and set out to change that. He told me the successes and the philosophy behind the program. And he invited me to follow up and to visit the site in Sunnyvale next week.

Today I learned how to put my insecurities aside and be more aggressive. And even though some people don’t know what journalism is (one of my friends asked me today), it can be pretty damn powerful.

Day 2 – Leave a message at the tone


Mosaic staff writer Jacky Tsang learns the camera basics. // Photo by Hannah Chebeleu, Mosaic Staff Photographer.

By Aysha Rehman, Mosaic Staff Writer

I think I called almost every homeless shelter in San Jose and I haven’t gotten anyone of them to call me back except one. One. Right now I feel like I’m just biding my time until this story slips through the cracks, and honestly, I’m feeling rejected. Like maybe this won’t be as big a story as I see it.

I decided to write about the homeless when I had an important discussion with my dad oh so long ago. I had started reading quite a bit about the plight of the homeless when a series on the issue appeared on the Al Jazeera America website. Ever since then I’ve always had an interest in writing about the homeless here, in our own backyard.

My plan for now is just to plan out my questions, and wait, because if all I have is that one shelter to cover, than I hope I cover it well, because these people all have stories, and it’s about time we stopped ignoring what they have to tell us.

As I sit here wasting away waiting for a phone call, I wonder what kinds of people I’m going to talk to, or what stories they have to tell me. How they became homeless, or how they get by on a day-to-day basis. To me, it’s unimaginable how we can subject our fellow human beings to this kind of living when we ourselves remain ignorant of the fallacies of the American dream, but I digress.

Tomorrow I hope someone calls me back, and allows me access into this oft forgotten world of those we have essentially deemed “the other.” I want to see what it’s like in the shoes of those who we toss a quarter or two into charity for, those who we see at Christmas time but neglect to see in the heat of summer.

Maybe the next day will hold replies and maybe some leads to go off of, but as for now, I’m leaving a message at the tone.