My name is Luis Miguel Rios Jr., and I am a senior at New Mexico State University, majoring in journalism. This summer, I am working as an intern for the Sierra County Sun to further my skills and reporting experiences. Following the example of my hard-working family, I have fought tooth and nail to get this far.
I was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the year 2000 and raised in El Paso, Texas. I am a second-generation Mexican American on my mother’s side and first on my father’s side. My parents have always been incredibly industrious, and I always do my best to emulate them with anything I’m involved in.
Even as a young kid, I loved to write. I remember writing stories based on what I read, like superhero comics or horror stories by Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe. Writing remains a comforting pastime. After having a busy day at school or work, nothing helps me more than just sitting down and writing a story that has occurred to me. It’s provided me a way to express myself, while allowing me to calm my mind.
I was first introduced to journalism during my senior year at Franklin High School, when I joined the Newspaper Club. The day I walked into the club supervisor’s classroom to ask about joining, she immediately gave me an assignment. I was to go to the campus’s main library and interview students taking an after-school tutoring program and the teachers monitoring it.
I remember feeling extremely anxious since I wasn’t a social person. Going up to people and asking questions made me put myself out there and that was something I did not do. After I talked with everyone, I had a feeling of accomplishment because I got the answers I needed to formulate a story. Even today, I have to continually push myself to be more confident about approaching people to be interviewed.
The Newspaper Club teacher gave me no instructions on how my first article should be written. Getting the draft back riddled with red ink was humbling. I realized that newspaper reporting was different from creative writing. That realization didn’t intimate me, but rather stirred my curiosity and drive to do better. I wanted to learn more and master this form of writing, while also incorporating my own style.
At college, I double-majored in education and journalism until my sophomore year. I was struggling to decide what I wanted to do with my life. The more I learned about careers in education, the less interested I became.
Hearing in journalism classes that I needed prior experience if I wanted to get a reporting job after graduation, I panicked. But not for long. I screwed up my courage and walked into the office of The Round Up, NMSU’s student-run independent online news publication, and asked for work. Although it was about two months into the first semester of my sophomore year, by a stroke of luck they still had an unfilled staff writer position. I’ve been reporting for The Round Up ever since, and last year I was promoted to political writer.
It has been such an educational experience—technically, ethically and personally. Reporting, writing and turning in articles every week has taught me the reporting basics of who, what, when, where and why, as well as the Associated Press-style of news writing. It also helped me determine what I want to do with my life and gain an appreciation for how vital journalism is.
Reporters have the responsibility to ensure what they write is factual because their articles inform and affect the public. Reporters should understand that the topics they cover can be sensitive and should be handled with the upmost care and empathy. Transparency about the sources of information used in a story is essential to maintaining the readers’ trust. Citizens will use this information to make decisions relating to their lives, community and government, so a reporter must be accurate, fair and credible. Understanding this, I do more than my best to uphold these principles.
I look to do the same as I work for the Sun and continue working for The Round Up when the fall semester begins at NMSU. I’ve enjoyed the journey and feel hopeful that it is only just beginning.