The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

CCPS’s “The Journalist Series” Gives Students a Look into Catholic Journalism

St. John’s University welcomed three journalists to speak about their experience in the field.
(from left to right): Christine Persichette, Michelle Powers and Alicia Venter spoke to students at “The Journalist Forum” on Jan. 25.

St. John’s University’s Collins College of Professional Studies (CCPS) welcomed three journalists — Michelle Powers, Christine Persichette and Alicia Venter — at “The Journalist Forum” to speak about their experience in Catholic reporting and religious journalism. The event highlighted America’s religious news media and ran from 1:50 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. on Jan. 25 in St. Augustine Hall. 

St. John’s Professor and Director of Journalism Michael Rizzo kicked off the event by introducing the speakers. Persichette was first in line to showcase her presentation, including a rundown of her work and multiple video clips of her on air. 

However, due to technical difficulties with presenting the videos on the multiple televisions across the room, the clips were shown to the crowd through a laptop screen. 

“And this is what we call a technical difficulty,” Persichette said. “This has happened many times, especially when you start at a smaller news station.”

Persichette spoke about her experience on air, focusing on how Currents News covers different types of stories from a faith-based perspective. 

“We cover all the same news if you are watching Channel 5 or Channel 7,” she said. 

But she had to cover the war from a Catholic perspective. To do so, Persichette explained how she spoke to a nun who was living in Ukraine during the war. 

“She’s living in a warzone and she would tell us how she’s hearing explosions outside of her house,” she said. “That’s a lot of what we do. We want to put people’s faith into action.”

Following Persichette, Powers took the mic and introduced herself, giving the audience an overview of DeSales Media Group. They deliver news through multiple print, television and digital platforms, including The Tablet, Currents News, Nuestra Voz and CTN.

“When you’re doing Catholic news, you’re putting news and information out to a non-Catholic population,” she said. In her opinion, local media is the most rewarding type of media, and one of her main rules in local media is, “You can’t just talk about people, you need to talk to them.”

“Local news is the nerve center of news in New York City,” Powers said. 

Lastly, Venter began her presentation, reintroducing herself to her alma mater after working in the field of journalism for nearly two years, Venter graduated from the University in Spring 2022 and is a former editor-in-chief of The Torch.  

She began her job at The Tablet in July 2023. When discussing her passions, Venter shared how she is interested in covering topics regarding accessibility and mobility issues. “My mother has some issues walking so I’ve always wanted to cover that,” she said.

But Venter had to form a faith-based and local pitch when deciding to cover the topic. At her first job, Venter primarily focused on local Queens news. After moving to The Tablet, she transitioned to local Catholic reporting. 

“You can take something that is in the news wanting to be discussed and put a Catholic angle on it,” she said. “And it is still important beyond that.”

She covered two stories focusing on accessibility issues while retaining the paper’s Catholic perspective. One story was about ADA-accessible churches in the Brooklyn diocese and the other was about a St. Francis College student with cerebral palsy. The latter is one of Venter’s personal favorites. 

 “It’s one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written,” she said.

While all three had different journeys that led them to DeSales Media Group, their presentations focused on one common point: a wide range of news people consume daily, regardless of the initial absence of a Catholic angle can be reported from a faith-based perspective.

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About the Contributor
Dea Hoxha, Editor-in-Chief
Dea is a junior journalism student currently serving as Editor-in-Chief. In 2022, she served as the News Editor of The Torch. As Editor-in-Chief, Dea is excited to expand The Torch’s presence throughout the St. John’s community. When she isn’t writing, you can find her going on a coffee run while listening to Taylor Swift or Harry Styles.  Dea can be reached at [email protected]

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