Gallegos’ ‘rainbow journalism’ teachings empower nontraditional students

IECN Photo/Anthony Victoria: Cal State San Bernardino Communication Studies Professor Liliana Gallegos is helping first generation students find their voice through journalism and social activism.
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Cal State San Bernardino Communication Studies Professor Liliana Conlisk Gallegos believes in the power of agency. The third year professor is helping first generation students find their voice through journalism and social activism.

She’s created courses–Latin@s in Media and Culture and Decolonizing Journalism–to educate students about the negative portrayal of Latinos in mass media and encourage pupils to, “break the barriers of traditional media.”

“The students need to see themselves in media,” expressed Gallegos. “They don’t see themselves represented in Hollywood or mass media. And if they do see themselves, it’s always negatively.”

Gallegos, who holds a Masters and Ph.D in Hispanic languages and literatures and a degree in rhetoric, has created a new school of journalism–rainbow journalism–that utilizes broadcast, print, radio, and multimedia journalism, along with public relations, to depict marginalized groups in a different light.

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It allows for the storytelling of issues or particular events to be told from multiple perspectives, preferably through a first person, personal point of view.

“We’re free. No one tells us what we can do or what we can say,” Gallegos said. “There are leaders that guide, but ultimately it’s circular. The responsibility is divided among everyone equally.”

Students gather in groups and figure out their interests and strengths. From there they educate each other on how to produce video or to write a news story, Gallegos explained.

“Students don’t think of it as working or studying,” she said. “They can do something, they have power. It’s like, ‘Let me use my agency to take over my own education and learn journalism to propose something new.’”

Gallegos and her students presented their ‘rainbow journalism’ conglomerate at a conference in Chicago in May. The ‘Coyote Pack’ has also held and covered an art exhibit at the Garcia Center for the Arts earlier this year to raise money for undocumented students.

CSUSB graduate student Luis Esparza, who was a member of the Coyote Pack, said he was able to find a voice through Gallegos’ teachings.

“[Rainbow journalism] serves as an outlet for marginalized voices to come together, share their expertises, and become a force to be reckoned with,” said Esparza.

Gallegos believes the nontraditional students she serves–majority Hispanic and women–are empowered through the pedagogy of rainbow journalism.

“I want to break barriers by teaching education this way.”

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  1. I’m very glad to see a focus being put on making journalism accessible to nontraditional students. However, I’m not sure inventing an entirely new pedagogy of ‘rainbow journalism’ is needed to do so. To my mind, the reason journalism has historically done a poor job of covering those students’ communities is mainly that systemic racism has prevented newsrooms from covering them adequately and fairly in keeping with traditional journalistic standards, not that traditional journalistic standards are themselves flawed. It’s hard to fully tell from this article exactly what ‘rainbow journalism’ entails, though, so I’d have to learn more or take the class to render a well-informed judgement on whether Gallegos’ pedagogy overreaches.


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