The Pioneer

How the newspaper changed my life

Marissa Marshall,
Sports Editor

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When was the last time something changed your life for the better?

Whenever I am posed with this question I can answer instantly, writing did, well writing for the newspaper to be exact.

That newspaper is this very publication, Cal State East Bay’s The Pioneer. During one of the most insecure periods of my life, I turned to the newspaper. From that point on, my life made a shift for the better.

On Feb. 18, 2016, the very first article I ever wrote was not only published in the newspaper, but was on the front page. It was an opinion piece about Beyonce and her groundbreaking Super Bowl 50 performance that focused on the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

Ahead of writing it or even pitching it, I was contemplating how to approach The Pioneer staff and tell them I was interested in writing for them. For the longest time, I wanted to get experience as a reporter and sports journalist. I knew the newspaper would be a great starting point.

It took that performance for me to finally let that self doubt go and go to into the newsroom to pitch my idea. As a huge Beyonce fan, I have a passion for talking about how she blazes a trail for Black women. It went beyond that, this was finally my chance to get my feet wet in the journalism field.

When I walked into the newspaper meeting, I was the youngest in the room, a freshman, pitching a controversial story that had a good chance of getting rejected.

I pitched it, wrote it, it was edited and two days later I was the happiest 18-year-old ever with my article on the front page of a publication. All of my friends and family read it and anytime I saw someone pick up the paper and read it, I felt butterflies in my entire body.

This was a transitional moment for me because The Pioneer gave my work a chance. They gave me the confidence to not stop there but go for more. So I did just that.

The week after my article was published, I went back in the newsroom and expressed my love for sports and aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. As an eager freshman, I wanted to learn how to write sports articles and the art of interviewing athletes in order to get me closer to my professional goals.

From that point on, I attended CSUEB sports games and covered them conducting interviews and providing in-depth analysis of the games, teams, players and coaches.

My first sports article was coverage of a women’s water polo game and I remember everything being a surreal experience for me because I always dreamt of being able to do this. I felt like my idols: ESPN reporters Cari Champion and Jemele Hill and former Warriors sideline reporter and current TNT reporter Ros Gold-Onwude. In my head, I was on my way to becoming the next Black woman on television talking about sports.

After a few weeks of hard work, I was promoted from contributor to staff writer for the newspaper. I was in charge of covering all CSUEB sports, Bay Area professional sports teams and writing opinion pieces as well.

From that moment on, my life changed forever. Becoming the youngest writer for their publication was a blessing to say the least. Especially, since I was at a point in my life where I didn’t think reporting would really be for me, but they reassured me I could do it.

I began writing two articles a week and found myself getting better and better every day. Feeling my goals become a reality with each sentence through interviews and constructive criticism made by the editorial staff. This was the shift that set me up for the success I am experiencing now.

While my goals have shifted from wanting to be a sports reporter to being more involved in the business side of sports, writing stories and interviewing people has helped take my communication skills to the next level. I have been taught to convey my words in a way that connects with others, which is felt through the job applications, interviews and the people I speak with on a daily basis.

I have held internships with the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Sparks, NBC Sports and I attribute a huge part of that success to The Pioneer. I am thankful they allowed my work to flourish through the publication and they believed in my abilities as a young inexperienced freshman student.

It instilled a confidence in me that I did not have before I stepped in the newsroom. Now when I step out, I feel free and confident that I can achieve anything.

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California State University East Bay
How the newspaper changed my life