Bianca Fortis navigated her way through the ever-changing field of journalism, thought outside the box, embraced new media forms all to reach her ultimate goal of social justice journalism. She wanted to give the marginalized a voice and platform to tell their stories.
Fortis followed her passion for writing and chose to study journalism at the University of Central Florida. She graduated in 2010 and set out to pursue a career in journalism.
Following graduation, she received an opportunity for an internship with the Hispanic Link New Service in Washington D.C. She gained experience adding to her skills and made lasting connections with visual journalists Grisleda San Martin and Elaine Cromie with whom she is currently working.
Following her time in D.C. Fortis took her contacts and motivation and applied to every job she could find.
“I spent the summer applying everywhere,” Fortis said. “I probably applied to 100 jobs.”
Receiving her first break, Fortis took a job which took her across the country to the west coast. Working at a small, rural paper in Centralia, Washington, she honed her skills and began building her experience in social justice journalism while covering the civic, health and economic development beats. She covered the legislature, the gay marriage debate, and gubernatorial candidates.
“I considered it a really good training ground,” she said. “Because it was a small paper and a rural community, they allowed me to write any story I wanted.”
After a year in Washington, the budding journalist decided to follow a new path which took her to New York. She quickly discovered that New York City is the last place for an entry level journalist. Fortis realized the need to think outside the box and even stray from the traditional journalism in which she was trained.
“Bianca has done a wonderful job of adapting to an ever-changing landscape and environment for journalism,” said Professor Richard Kenney former professor and current chair of the Department of Communication at Augusta University. “I credit Bianca with being very nimble and figuring out these things in progress while she is exploring different jobs in different kinds of organizations.”
The connections she made in Washington, D.C. paid off as she reconnected with San Martin and Cromie in 2013. San Martin and Cromie shared Fortis’ passion for social justice journalism and invited her to collaborate on a documentary about the deportation of veterans. The documentary focuses primarily on a community in Tijuana, Mexico. The project is ongoing and inspired further action of Fortis, San Martin and Cromie. They partnered to establish Transborder Media. The three work together to tell the stories that transcend traditional borders.
Fortis worked at non-profits and two small local newspapers before staring Transborder Media and her work on the deported veteran documentary. The lack of funding for the documentary requires her to find work outside Transborder Media and the project.
“I have always gone back to freelancing when I am not working steadily,” said Fortis. “When I needed work, I needed to be open to something else.”
Currently she is working part-time as an online editor for MediaShift and for a very small non-profit that supports women and exploration. Her responsibilities at MediaShift include providing weekly posts surrounding awards and internship opportunities within journalism. She works with the communication office and social media accounts at the non-profit.
“This is definitely outside of the bounds of what I wanted to do but it is something I enjoy,” she said.
“You never know where a story is going to take you, said Fortis. “You might get the smallest tip and it may be a great opportunity.”
Interview with Summer Vick
AU students and faculty react to Trump's victory
The results of the 2016 Presidential election resulted in a shocked and concerned America. Students and faculty of Augusta University shared their reactions and concerns proving that AU is no exception to such reactions.
“My first reaction was utter shock.” said Jacob Tomberlin, a senior student of Communication. “I could not believe the results. I have gotten over some of that. Now I am more concerned with the cabinet which Trump is assembling.”
Jacob Tomberlin shared his thoughts on Trump's win.
The initial shock and concern surrounded Donald Trump’s victory, but what of the cabinet which he is assembling? Will he create a greater divide within America or build a coalition and mend relations through his appointments?
“A president is not all-powerful. It is the whole administration that makes up that power. The question is who is he going to appoint.” said Dr. Martha Ginn, associate professor of Political Science and Public Administration. “I am interested, but also hesitant. Jeff Sessions nomination can be concerning. By nominating Mitt Romney he could send the message that he is willing to work with someone who was once considered an enemy.”
While the initial and immediate reaction was shock, anger and fear were close behind. However, acceptance and hope slowly and eventually followed. Reactions indicate that some have come to terms and feel that the only thing they can do is simply be hopeful.
“I can only be hopeful that President-elect Trump will learn from his advisors,” said Nikki Fiegen. “I feel that he may take steps towards a more moderate position. His most current statements are mild as compared to those he made at the beginning of 2016.”
“I do not feel a republican stronghold will last. I believe by the midterm elections in 2018 the democrats will at least regain the Senate,” said Dr. Ginn.
Whether due to the hope of a more moderate stance or the realization that midterm elections can lessen the Republican stronghold, the reactions of students and faculty at Augusta University show a full circle of shock, anger, acceptance, and even hope concerning Trump’s victory.