Editor's View: Vista finds voice through student scribes

By: Don Chaddock, Managing Editor
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I had the honor of speaking to a class at Vista del Lago High School last week. The students are all working on the school’s first newspaper.

Under the guidance of Janice Johnson, the newspaper adviser, the students gathered their chairs in a semi-circle and surrounded your local newspaper editor. Their questions ranged from interesting people I’ve met (my answer, by the way, was Charlton Heston, Rosie Grier and astronaut Jim Lovell) to why I choose to work at a weekly community newspaper.

That last question is a frequent one I receive, as though helming The Folsom Telegraph, El Dorado Hills Telegraph and Folsom Lake Entertainer magazine were somehow “less than” working for what’s perceived as a more prestigious publication. In short, I enjoy what I do and where I work. I enjoy working in a community where there is an actual sense of “community.” I enjoy documenting life in a small town. It’s what I’ve done for more than 20 years. Having worked for newspapers large and small,  there is something special about a community paper.

Also, I’m not one to be stuck in a narrow cubby hole, working within the confines of barriers and strict guidelines with little creativity. As I told the students, Laura Newell (my staff reporter) and I cover a wide range of topics. If we worked for a larger newspaper, it probably wouldn’t be the case.
But, back to the students. The very next night, 11 of those students were inducted into the school’s first Quill and Scroll Society. News10’s Cristina Mendonsa, of Folsom, was also on hand.

“I’m truly so very proud of all of you,” Johnson told the gathering.

Mendonsa also spoke to the friends and families of those being inducted.

“As a journalist, you’re a storyteller first,” she said. “It’s about people.”

She said it’s also an exciting time to be getting into the journalism field.

“After all that contraction, news is expanding because it’s delivered on so many platforms and they all need quality content,” she said.

The students also presented Mendonsa was an honorary membership in the society for all she’s done to help foster the budding journalism program at Vista.

Thank you students, Janice Johnson and Cristina Mendonsa for all you do.

Don Chaddock can be reached at or follow him on Twitter @anewsguy.