A Message from the Directors


"What if saving journalism really has more to do with new models of storytelling, ones that help people get up in the morning and live consciously, rather than make them more afraid or resigned and want to stay asleep?"

– Alex Tizon

It has been a tough but exciting time to be working in the media. Overuse of the term "fake news" to describe our industry's work and the prevalence of actual misinformation means that journalists and media companies are under fire from all sides. As we like to say, public trust in the media is at an all-time low.

At the same time, telling stories that matter has never been more important. As proud Voices alumni and faculty members and as individuals who believe in the importance of journalism in a democracy, we believe that volunteering our time with Voices is how we help train this next generation of up-and-coming journalists—journalists who produce quality editorial work, who understand the larger impact their work has on society, and who are deeply engaged with driving the direction of the industry.

In addition, the news industry is struggling as news organizations and journalists remain stuck in the page-view economy, which continues to erode at this trust. It's up to us journalists to fix this. The people who feel the most negative impact of this paradigm are news consumers. More than ever before, we believe that it is important prepare and train the next generation of journalists to exemplify professionalism, adherence to the truth, and diversity. Over the last two years, we focused on building a program around how to provide people with trusted news when they need it, in the format they want in it, rather than news that is focused on ratings, virality, or impressions. This year, we continued this theme by building a program that focuses on helping journalists understand how audiences engage with journalists, how communities view the work journalists produce, and how journalists can understand the impact their work has. 

This year, we found service-oriented and diverse students who want to tell the stories of communities who have traditionally been sidelined or who come from those very communities.

We found empathetic students who are interested in not only informing their audiences about what is happening, but in sharing their journalistic process, their insights, their methodology, and yes, their biases, with their audiences.

We found human-centric students who want to move beyond developing apps, designing websites, or thinking about mobile versus desktop — students who are thinking about how to build useful and desirable experiences for their audiences and are unconstrained by tradition.

We found students comfortable with experimentation, who can take advantage of the many technical innovations that have been made in order to better empower newsrooms.

We are excited to continue this program with you, and encourage all students to apply for Summer 2020!

—Maya Sugarman & Jessie Tseng, Directors, '17-'20

Maya & Jessie.JPG

Maya Sugarman works at The Washington Post as video editor of The Lily, a publication of The Post that elevates stories critical to the lives of women. Previously, she was a visual journalist at KPCC, an NPR affiliate in Los Angeles. She's been an adjunct instructor at the USC Annenberg School for Journalism. She's worked at newspapers throughout California. She studied art at UCLA and was a Voices student in Detroit in 2011.

Jessie Tseng is taking a break from media right now and is currently leads a product design team at Flatiron Health where she spends her time building teams to research and design products that increase the availability of effective cancer treatments and improve the survival and quality of life through clinical trials. Previously, she’s worked at the Washington Post. She is a proud Cal alumna and was a Voices student in Detroit in 2011.