Fall 2009

[Alumni News]

John Diaz

Wielding a Mighty Pen

After more than 30 years in the newsroom, John Diaz (’77, Journalism) still hangs on to the Royal typewriter he used during his studies at Humboldt State. He bought it for $5 at a yard sale. He installs a new ribbon now and then and teases his colleagues at the San Francisco Chronicle that when the big quake comes, he will be able to proclaim, “Mine still works!”

John Diaz

A busy man, John Diaz has been editor of the Chronicle’s editorial page since 1996 — he has won numerous awards for his editorial writing — but finds time to mentor young reporters and students. This spring he received the 2009 Distinguished Alumni award and spoke to several classes while on campus. He tells students that despite the historic changes going on now in the news industry, there will always be a need for high quality reporting. News organizations will still seek go-getters who have a love of language and an appreciation for the richness of a story, he says. Accordingly, despite the current turmoil in the news business, John is encouraging: “There are still opportunities if you really love writing and reporting, even if not in the print press, because the public will always want accurate, accountable reporting.” He advises students to “read, read, read” as a sure road to good writing.

Of the journalism faculty at Humboldt State in the 1970s, John recalls, “More than anything else, I came out thinking like a journalist. I had an appreciation for meeting deadlines and accuracy and the sense of ethics was ingrained in me.”

Part of his education took place at Humboldt State’s KHSU-FM radio station, an NPR affiliate, where he was a news producer, sports announcer and deejay. He hosted a three-hour music program on Friday night with a title he concocted himself: “Movin’, Bumpin’ and Trippin’.”

“It was great headline writing experience,” he chuckles.