The Trust Project
Jessica Hardcastle ’98 is currently senior editor at SDxCentral. She has worked as an editor and reporter for more than 15 years at numerous publications.
What did your time as a The Santa Clara journalist teach you about the importance of trust and transparency in journalism?
It taught me that without these two things, none of the work we do matters. Trust is our only currency. If sources don’t trust us, they won’t talk to us and we can’t do our job. If readers don’t trust us to tell the truth, they are not going to read our stories. And unless we are transparent, we can’t gain trust.
Did your experience on The Santa Clara inform your future career choice?
Yes. I thought I wanted to be a journalist prior to working at TSC, but I’d never been involved with the student newspaper or anything else like that in high school. I learned about news judgement and how to report and write stories while working at TSC. I learned I love the medium of print—still do, although I’m now at an online daily. I also learned that I could do successful work in a top management position as an editor (at TSC, I was news editor and then editor-in-chief). I went on to use these skills overseeing writers and being responsible for content at other publications, including Monterey County Weekly, where I worked as news editor, and at Environmental Leader as managing editor.
My experience at TSC also showed me that I would have to work harder as a female journalist to be taken seriously, both as a journalist and also as an editor, compared to my male colleagues. One early example: When I told my first advisor (this was before I declared my major, so he wasn’t anyone in the Communication department) that I thought I wanted to be a journalist and work at TSC, he told me, “Oh, very nice. Start writing stories now as a freshman and maybe by the time you are a senior you will be the news editor.” I remember thinking “I’ll be editor-in-chief as a senior.” I worked hard. As a sophomore I was news editor, and then Editor-In-Chief as a senior.
What do you think is the biggest challenge in delivering quality journalism today?
People don’t believe in facts. I’m not sure how we can do more more than preach to the choir if a huge part of the population doesn’t believe facts in, say, a New York Times investigative piece because they think it’s fake news.