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Strategic Plan: Stories that Inspire

RJ Media: Coaching Generative Journalists with Jesuit Views

Adam Dawkins ’98 is a coach, travel guide, advocate and role model. As faculty adviser to the student-run RJ Media program, he is cultivating critical thinkers and active listeners, who express their humanity and compassion through telling stories.  
 
He said, “Journalism is the perfect way to teach students about ‘others’—and also to inspire them to fight for more justice and solidarity.”
Dawkins led the 2019 service immersion trip to Tijuana, Mexico, where 10 students, gathered source material for their social documentary Crossing Borders. The film, now being screened for the public, is sparking deep conversations about migration. Dawkins’ next yearlong generative journalism course will explore homelessness in Denver. 
 
“Generative journalism allows us to be hyper-focused on a theme or issue that is grounded in our Jesuit mission, our Catholic social teaching and our faith,” Dawkins said. “Then, all the work we do, all the stories we find and tell, can be directed at amplifying the message and uplifting voices in the community.” 
 
After many years of steady growth, journalism classes and extracurricular media activities now engage 600-700 students per year, from the Concordia yearbook and Elevate magazine, to the weekly RJTV broadcast news show and live broadcasts of Raider sports and events. As RJ Media racks up awards from the Colorado Student Media Association, Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association, it needs more creative and flexible space.  
 
Erika Rasmussen ’16, who took journalism classes and freelanced a few stories while at Regis Jesuit, is now on a yearlong journalism fellowship in New York, at America Media, a Jesuit media ministry that produces America magazine and other properties. She recalls RJ Media’s move to the Steele Center in 2014. “Having a dedicated space that belonged to all students made all the difference,” she said. “Everyone felt welcome, and we were able to learn in community in a completely new way.” 
 
RJ Media’s next move to the future Science & Innovation Center will enable the program to have even wider impact on campus and beyond—by orders of magnitude. With three video and audio editing rooms, a circular stage, an LED screen and plenty of space for collaboration and team-teaching, the new interdisciplinary building will expand and enhance the teaching of all aspects of professional filmmaking and journalism.  
 
Rasmussen, who graduated from Santa Clara University in 2020 with majors in English and sociology and minors in Spanish and creative writing, is exploring what Joe Hoover, SJ, the poetry editor at America, described to her as: “the many rooms in my father’s house of journalism,” a reference to John 14:2. With mentorship from Hoover and others, she is learning about audio and video production and social media, writing stories on assignment and pitching ideas of her own. Her subjects have been relevant and complex, ranging from coronavirus vaccine ethics and how Jesuit universities tackle implicit bias, to the death penalty and the Netflix adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel Rebecca. 
 
Whatever the future holds, Rasmussen knows she wants to live her life “in a way that brings others into love and a sense of belonging and belovedness.” And that goal squares perfectly with what she learned at Regis Jesuit, and from Dawkins and RJ Media. 
 
“I’ve known since I was five years old that I want to be a writer,” she said. “I’m supposed to tell stories and to write them. I’m realizing now that stories are life, and stories are life giving. I’m being affirmed that my desire to do this is how I can love others—and we can love one another.”
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