California Press Foundation (Cal Press) has been supporting the future of journalism for more than 140 years. The organization provides professional support, education, coveted journalism awards and opportunities for future journalists. Through this work, Cal Press has a vision of assuring the future and integrity of journalism in California.

Cecilia Deck, De Anza College faculty and adviser to La Voz News, displays her “2022 Cal Press Educator of the Year” award, surrounded by students in her student news media production classes, on Wednesday April 27, 2022

In May 2023, Cal Press launched its inaugural Tim Crews Fellowship, awarding the position to Danielle McKinney. McKinney, a 2021 Sacramento State University alum, will serve as an entrepreneurial ambassador to grow and energize the Cal Press mission. This includes expanding support and further engagement with high school, community college and university students.

“The role of journalists is an essential part of democracy,” McKinney said. “We support the future of journalism in California through inclusivity, collaboration and the ongoing support of education.”

Cal Press awards equipment grants to campus news programs annually. High schools, colleges and university journalism programs can apply for up to $1,500 to purchase hardware, ensuring students have the equipment they need to learn and develop their aspirations of becoming professional journalists.

The organization’s biggest success has been the internships that it offers, according to McKinney. The internship funding Cal Press provides gives interns valuable hands-on experience that can propel them to future jobs. Since 1995, Cal Press has supported 160 internships and many of these former interns have gone on to have successful careers. Past interns have secured positions at the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and CNN.

“Anytime we support students who go on to stay in the industry, that’s a success,” McKinney said. “Our programs provide critical support for aspiring journalists who may have limited opportunities.”

Recently, Cal Press partnered with California State University, Northridge to fund a journalism census project. Students gathered and compiled data from public and private journalism programs to create an open-source database of publications and education programs. The Journalism Education Collaborative is expected to launch in 2024. Cal Press hopes that the resulting database will be a place where professional and aspiring journalists can connect. Students will be able to review programs, find advisors and consider their options for pursuing an education.

Recently, Cal Press received a grant from Mapping Black California through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The organization has a small staff and numerous volunteers who help implement its work. Cal Press depends on donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations. Those interested in supporting can donate directly through the organization’s website. These contributions support training and education for high school, college, university and professional journalists.

Membership to the organization is free to individuals and Cal Press encourages those interested in the future of media to become members and consider supporting its programs. Cal Press is also seeking more partnerships to promote and sustain quality journalism. By investing in the development of talent and sustainability Cal Press can help to ensure that Californians have access to trustworthy news, McKinney said.

Expanding the support given to aspiring journalists and ensuring more students can explore careers in journalism and find mentors is a critical component to the future of accessible and trustworthy news, according to McKinney.  This includes strengthening and fostering diversity and inclusion from the classroom to the newsroom so that marginalized voices are included.

“We are doing a lot and are aspiring to do a lot more to support student journalists directly and in a greater sense through our partnerships,” McKinney said. “It’s going to take a team to accomplish all we hoping to accomplish for California.”

This story originally appeared in the Press Enterprise June 2023.

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