Learning from the Experts: Journalism Class Goes to SF Chronicle

A reflection on the Journalism as Literature field trip to The San Francisco Chronicle and KQED. 

by Rosalie Kenward ’19

I arrived in San Francisco at 8:30 am yesterday morning. The air was crisp and cool, and I found myself clutching the edges of my coat together in order to encase my chest in whatever small bit of warmth I had the power to retain. The doorway to the Chronicle was composed of thick glass, which appeared to have stood for perhaps longer than even I had. The panels were encased in a dark wood frame and two curved bronze handles. I wrapped my numb fingers around the left fixture and entered.

As soon we stepped into the cramped elevator, packing ourselves in like matchsticks, I felt the excitement and anticipation accumulate within me as we shot upward.

The hallway we were deposited onto was fairly narrow, opening up into a room lined with cluttered desks and harried workers typing furiously on their computers, papers strewn haphazardly as they drew hurried dregs from their coffee cups, allowing the caffeine to pull the exhaustion from their sunken eyes.

We soon entered the site of the meeting. The room quieted instantly upon our entrance, and I felt that all-too-familiar feeling of “latecomers’ guilt.” We squeezed in as tightly and diminutively as possible, making our way to the small row of chairs set aside for us. The editors sat around a large, ovate wooden table in dark, plush chairs which appeared to recline slightly when met with one’s weight.

Phrases were thrown back and forth from editor to respondent with a kind of furious exasperation. We watched in awe, as tomorrow’s newspaper was outlined before our eyes, created in our stupefied presence.

But none of it compared to talking with Kevin Fagan. His words spilled effortlessly from his throat as if his mind had its own personal team of editors. Each phrase was expertly crafted and unique, as we attempted to peer inside his churning mind and latch onto some understanding for the nature of genius.