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Audio journalist Kavitha Cardoza joins the Florida Student News Watch as mentor

Four questions with Kavitha Cardoza.

1. You're an accomplished journalist, professor and Spencer Fellow based in D.C. What brought you to the News Watch?

My initial exposure to the News Watch was through a friend and colleague, CD Davidson-Hiers (News Watch Founder). And I think she had mentioned it to me. But then I started meeting the students at an Education Writers Association conference. And they were so passionate and articulate and thoughtful and, you know, really believed in what they were doing. And so, I would really say CD introduced me to the organization, but the students really, kind of, sold me on being part of it.

2. You're an award-winning audio journalist who cares deeply about elevating voices and recently you took a trip to Puerto Rico for a story on climate change and education. What do you prioritize teaching to your students about journalism?

I usually focus on evergreen aspects of journalism, meaning: whichever beat you're in, whichever station or outlet or freelance gig you're in, whether you're reporting in the U.S. or outside; what are the basics of journalism you need to know? And those are things such as how to work with sources, interviewing skills, ethics, and things like that. I also feel that based in Washington D.C., there are a lot of journalists who come through D.C., either for conferences, or they work here for a few years, and then go to a different place. And so, I feel I love connecting young reporters with senior journalists because they're always so willing to mentor other journalists and give them advice. And I think that can be really, really helpful, especially when you're a young journalist, (and) you're in a different part of the country. I was in rural Illinois for eight years. And so, I know the value of that. And when maybe you don't have those resources inside your own newsroom.

3. What motivates you in journalism? What stories do you seek out?

I definitely believe that journalism matters more than ever. It sounds trite. But I am so hopeful about the necessity of journalism; I really believe that journalists’ voices matter, especially students, and especially in climate change. If you are not going to tackle this problem, I don't know who will because this is, like, one of the most pressing issues I can think of.

I think of being a student as a strength, sometimes you can slip into places and speak to people who don't take you seriously when they really should, and you can get wonderful information. I think being part of the university, you have access to these awesome libraries, professors and documents. And, so, I just really think this is just such a mission that was so important.

I seek out stories, always, I think, about the underdog, about people who don't have a platform. I'm very drawn to stories about people who are from low-income families, who have grown up in poverty, who are minorities, often, who basically don't have the power or don't have power and journalism provides a powerful platform.

4. What can News Watch students know about you in advance?

That just because you're a student, I am not going to treat you like a student. You are a journalist in training. And I expect you to have done your homework, to be prepared, to have done your research, to be on time. You know, all the things that are all the things I expect from other journalists and expect from myself in the work world. I am excited. Thanks so much.

Kavitha Cardoza regularly contributes to The Hechinger Report and her stories have appeared in NPR, The Guardian, USAToday and elsewhere.


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