The year after a thousand earthquakes

“Sometimes an earthquake can shake us up when we least expect it. Just remember why you became a journalist in the first place.”

Do you remember why you became a journalist?

Just after 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1989, I raced out of the small Spanish-language TV station where I worked as a young technician. I remember the parking lot rolling in waves and the power lines dancing in the air. Just over the mountains and an hour away, the San Francisco Bay Area buckled under the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake.

The newsroom geared up to cover the story, but the only working field camera was reserved to shoot a car commercial. They implored management to reschedule, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Our station was the only daily source of Spanish-language news for the northern Central Valley, stretching from Sacramento to Modesto. There was no alternative; there was no internet. The region is home to hundreds of thousands of Spanish speakers, many with family and friends who work in the Bay Area. That night, I became a journalist.

The year 2020 has been rocked by a thousand earthquakes. Audiences have fled to their filter bubbles as the pandemic rages. Racism abounds. The most basic facts are under assault. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs. In the midst of such turmoil, you may feel overwhelmed, helpless, and dejected.

But it can also make you feel like fighting back. I believe 2020 will inspire a wave of innovation and a new generation of journalists in pursuit of the truth. New organizations, products, and roles will put journalism to work in ways we never thought possible, leveraging technology to solve problems at scale.

It may look different, but the “why” doesn’t change. We’ll still tell the truth, give a voice to the voiceless, hold the powerful to account and help those in need.

On that night in 1989, I listened as the exasperated news team vented about human rights, race, and journalism ethics. I never looked back. Sometimes an earthquake can shake us up when we least expect it. Just remember why you became a journalist in the first place.

Cory Bergman is vice president of product and co-founder of Factal.

Do you remember why you became a journalist?

Just after 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1989, I raced out of the small Spanish-language TV station where I worked as a young technician. I remember the parking lot rolling in waves and the power lines dancing in the air. Just over the mountains and an hour away, the San Francisco Bay Area buckled under the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake.

The newsroom geared up to cover the story, but the only working field camera was reserved to shoot a car commercial. They implored management to reschedule, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Our station was the only daily source of Spanish-language news for the northern Central Valley, stretching from Sacramento to Modesto. There was no alternative; there was no internet. The region is home to hundreds of thousands of Spanish speakers, many with family and friends who work in the Bay Area. That night, I became a journalist.

The year 2020 has been rocked by a thousand earthquakes. Audiences have fled to their filter bubbles as the pandemic rages. Racism abounds. The most basic facts are under assault. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs. In the midst of such turmoil, you may feel overwhelmed, helpless, and dejected.

But it can also make you feel like fighting back. I believe 2020 will inspire a wave of innovation and a new generation of journalists in pursuit of the truth. New organizations, products, and roles will put journalism to work in ways we never thought possible, leveraging technology to solve problems at scale.

It may look different, but the “why” doesn’t change. We’ll still tell the truth, give a voice to the voiceless, hold the powerful to account and help those in need.

On that night in 1989, I listened as the exasperated news team vented about human rights, race, and journalism ethics. I never looked back. Sometimes an earthquake can shake us up when we least expect it. Just remember why you became a journalist in the first place.

Cory Bergman is vice president of product and co-founder of Factal.

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