A change came in late September for the San Quentin News Journalism Guild. The guild’s volunteer instructor, Yukari Kane, is bound for Chicago to begin the next chapter of her life. She is passing the reins to former Harvard University Nieman Fellow Monica Campbell.
“[Kane] put us in way capable hands,” said Marcus Henderson, the Journalism Guild chairman who has spent more than two years with Kane.
Though Henderson is sad to see Kane go, he has confidence in Campbell’s abilities.
Campbell attended San Jose State University and has written for Newsweek, The Christian Science Monitor, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She is a senior editor/reporter for Public Radio International (PRI)’s “The World.”
Her experience includes six years in Mexico and Latin America, even in prison, and her work has taken her as far as Afghanistan.
Campbell knows the risks associated with reporting in diverse places around the world. She is motivated to examine what is going on in parts of the world that are underrepresented. Her purpose is to help people who do not have a direct line into journalism become reporters.
Kane and Campbell met through San Francisco’s Writer’s Grotto.
“She’s a great journalist,” Kane said. “She sees journalism in a similar way as I do.”
Campbell first heard of the San Quentin News Guild when Kane shared an essay written by Jesse Vasquez around June of 2018.
Prisoners are a marginalized group that need not be hidden from the eyes of society. Empowering them to become reporters can help to remove more blind spots in our society said Campbell. Yes, reporters can come into San Quentin and report on what is going on in prison, and they may even scratch below the surface to uncover some great truths to enlighten the world.
However, Campbell believes that there is value in a prisoner’s unique lens. When it comes to reporting about prison issues, prisoners richly benefit from the intimate knowledge, insight and understanding derived through the direct experience afforded them by their unique background.
“I think journalism is an increasingly privileged profession,” Campbell said. “A diversity of voices in journalism is important.”
Past semesters of the Journalism Guild have honed Henderson’s ability as a writer under Kane’s instruction and guidance. Others like him can attest to how Kane took him to the next level. He said that Kane’s passion allowed him to use his “paintbrush” to add the right color to a story while at the same time knowing where to put it.
Campbell looks forward to building on what Kane has done in the class.
“I’m not interested in awards,” Campbell said. “I’m interested in places and in people who are not generally in the spotlight.”