Horizon: Changing who gets to be a journalist

Photo of Jariel, a Black man with a mustache and goatee in a black and yellow paisley shirt

Jariel Arvin M.J. ’25

Berkeley Journalism student Jariel Arvin M.J. ’25 says his first break in journalism was bittersweet.

Amid the national reckoning on race that followed the 2020 police murder of George Floyd, newsrooms attempted to rectify their lack of Black journalists. The news site Vox offered Arvin a fellowship explicitly for new journalists of color.

“I never really forget that fact,” said Arvin about the opportunity born from Floyd’s murder. “I don’t think I ever will. I use that to propel me forward, to take advantage of the opportunities that have been given to me to be a journalist.”

A Skidmore College graduate, Arvin worked for nearly six years in Vietnam and taught English in Oakland with Teach for America before turning to journalism. Although he benefited from the experience at Vox, he knew that journalism school would provide the hands-on support he needed to enter the field at a higher level. He was admitted to Berkeley in 2023 and received a prestigious fellowship for first-generation students.

Without this fellowship, Arvin says, he simply would not have been able to come to journalism school and likely would not have returned to journalism.

“We urgently need to expand funding for journalism education to grow and diversify the talent pipeline across the country.” — Angela Filo

To support more students like Arvin and reach toward an equity goal of “debt free” journalism education for all, Berkeley Journalism has just launched a five-year, $54.4 million campaign. Alum Angela Filo M.J. ’99 and her husband, David Filo, the co-founder of Yahoo, have given $10 million. Their gift — the largest in Berkeley Journalism history — will enable the school to double the amount of financial aid it can offer to the incoming class this fall and provide donor matches to create five new endowed master’s fellowships.

“One of the driving forces of the Berkeley Journalism campaign is access,” said Angela Filo. “We urgently need to expand funding for journalism education to grow and diversify the talent pipeline across the country. There is no better place to do that than at Cal.”

Filo says that supporting fellowships speaks to the broader question of who gets to be a journalist.

“We need as many storytellers as possible bringing their experience, bringing their wisdom, but also really engaging deeply with the principles of great journalism,” she says.

Arvin’s interests span climate, international reporting, and criminal justice. His master’s thesis will focus on bias in jury selection. And in spite of the challenges facing journalism, he’s optimistic about what’s next.

“People don’t talk enough about how fun journalism is!” Arvin says. “I can’t think of a greater job or profession. It touches everything we do. Journalism is a public service.”

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