Last semester, J 352, Community Journalism, produced the premier issue of this periodical, dedicated to the stories of Latinos and Latinas of the World War II generation.
Narratives is part of a larger national oral history project that is expected to unfold for a few more years. The idea behind Narratives was a simple one: provide students with a tangible outcome of their semester’s work, while at the same time give our interview subjects a demonstration of how their video-recorded interviews might be used.
The response to Volume 1, Number 1, was phenomenal: our interview subjects enjoyed seeing their stories in print and asked for dozens of extra copies to share with family and friends. We gladly mailed out more. Narratives has been distributed to people on a growing database made of people who have contacted us, names and addresses we’ve gotten through the Center for Mexican American Studies, and some old friends we knew would like to see it. If you would like to be included in our database, of if you want to get copies to others, or if you would like a few extra copies, please contact us at the address below. Narratives is free; you can’t buy a subscription -- and we have every intention of keeping it that way. (We do accept donations to help offset our production and mailing costs, as well as other costs related to our project. But we want to make sure that everyone who wants a copy gets one, without paying for it.)
As we’ve gone along, we’ve reaped other, unexpected, benefits as well. Narratives has become an excellent way to perform a public service, and as such, it demonstrates one way journalism can enhance the lives of people.
Another unexpected plus is on the personal level. Many of our students have developed personal friendships with older men and women they would never have met otherwise. Hannah McIntyre, a 21-year-old photojournalism major, told of how Elizabeth Garcia, her interview subject, had overcome tremendous hardships and maintained a positive outlook. "She’s amazing, I love her!" Hannah said, her eyes glowing. If the article turned out well, Hannah said with a grin, Mrs. Rodriguez promised to take her out to dinner.
Hannah and her fellow students conducted interviews, transcribed the tapes, scanned photographs and wrote most of the stories for Narratives.
But, because we’re part of a larger effort, we also are able to count on contributions from volunteers, like Maro Robbins, a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, and Frank Trejo, reporter for The Dallas Morning News, and Ronald Zepeda, a retired postal worker from Houston. It is likely that next fall’s edition of Narratives will feature many more contributions from volunteer interviewers. We truly can’t thank these volunteers enough. Maro, who covers courts for his newspaper, has sat in on a group interview in San Antonio, took a 2-hour Sunday afternoon training class from me, and interviewed one of our subjects, all on his own time. Frank, a veteran journalist and longtime supporter of journalism education, covers an assortment of city-side assignments. He very generously spent a week in our newspaper lab editing student stories, writing stories from transcripts and from videotaped interviews, and even went out to add more information to an existing interview. We thank Frank for taking a week out of his busy life to help out. We also thank his supervisors at The Dallas Morning News, for supporting him and our effort.
Last semester, the Austin-American Statesman generously provided design, layout, copy-editing and printing for Narratives. This semester, the San Antonio Express-News steps in to provide the same services. We are very glad to be working with the talented layout editor Monte Bach and the meticulous copy editor Guillermo Torres.
We thank the San Antonio Express-News and editor Bob Rivard, Asst. Managing Editor Hallie Paul, for helping us put together this issue of Narratives. We look forward to working with both the Express-News and the Statesman in the future.
In this second semester of producing Narratives, we have again found a group of men and women interview subjects with great stories to tell. If there are themes to be found here it is that these people generally grew up poor, many dropped out of school at an early age to help out their families and they have worked hard before, during and after the war. Many are proud that their children have enjoyed educational advantages that were not always available for U.S. Latinos before the War.
This semester, we are introducing a special section called Tributes, dedicated to the memory of those U.S. Latinos and Latinas of this generation who are no longer available for interviews. The idea of commemorating the memories of these men and women first arose last summer, when the oral history project brochure first began circulating. More than once, we heard sons and daughters of this generation regret that their own parents were no longer alive to be interviewed. It would be wonderful, we were told, to acknowledge them in some way. But it wasn’t until February 26, 2000, when Jerry Jacques, a son of one, attended an interviewer training session in Houston and broached the idea. Mr. Jacques was insistent and we had to agree: it is only right that we acknowledge in some way the contributions of those who have passed away. His younger brother, Hiram, sent us biographical information. Here, then, is the first of what we expect will be many such pieces about loved ones.
Also in this issue, we feature video and audio of our interview subjects. This is largely due to the hard work of our teaching assistant Sherri Fauver, who painstakingly got the audio and video digitized in our Faculty Media Center, one floor above our own labs. Our students/interviewers selected which parts of the audio and videotape they wanted to include on their Web pages, cuing up the tape to the point they wanted. Sherri took the tapes upstairs and, with the patient help of Charles Soto, a file compression program was used to digitize. Then Quick Time was used to edit to the length the students needed. We believe that adding the audio and video enhance our interview stories and maximize the potential of the World Wide Web.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Narratives and we look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.
Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Instructor, J-352
Dr. Loriene Roy in the Graduate School of Information and Library Science. Dr. Roy's class, Bibliographic/Library Instruction, prepared pathfinders for research on our WWII stories. Those students are:
Andrei Adaryukov , Cherie BonneCarrere , Jason Bontrager , Scott Garton , Mary Goolsby , Dean Hendrix , Susan Hoyt , Elsy Jackson , Sara Joiner , Meghan Kelly , Judy McMillan , Sean Sutcliffe , Sha Towers , Zachary Twining , Alexia Young