The Trust Project
Jack Gillum ’06 is an investigative reporter at the Washington Post, formerly with AP, USA Today, and Arizona Daily Star.
What did your time as a journalist with The Santa Clara teach you about the importance of trust and transparency in journalism?
Being the editor of a campus paper underscored the importance of being accurate, since your fellow students read the paper every week. When things were incorrect, for instance, I’d often receive an earful from friends and strangers alike. It may seem obvious now, but explaining why we made certain editorial decisions—such as publishing a campus-related death—helped our community understand journalistic principles while also allowing us to deliver the news.
Did your experience on The Santa Clara inform your future career choice?
It absolutely did. When I started SCU, I was in the computer science program and was certain I’d be a programmer or go to medical school. But when I first started freelancing for The Santa Clara, then soon after becoming its editor until graduation, I found a passion that far exceeded my other areas of interest. To make sure this wasn’t a one-off feeling, I interned during the summer at daily newspapers. I was hooked.
What do you think is the biggest challenge in delivering quality journalism today?
The cost and experience. Journalism isn’t cheap: It takes money to pay salaries, benefits, public-records requests, lawsuits, and reporting trips. Seasoned journalists have also, from my experience, been leaving the industry—and with them leaves years of source-building and nuance that can help inform readers of sensitive or complex areas, whether that’s city hall or the science beat.