Reporting in North Beach this semester has led me to discover new things not only about the neighborhood, but also about myself.
On the first day of class, when the class was to decide which neighborhood to report on, I was truly scared. Surely, the amount of work seemed demanding; however, I was also scared about putting myself out into the journalism world. After picking and being assigned North Beach, I went home thinking about the stress that the class will bring.
My first day out in the neighborhood is one that I will always remember. I remember being quite nervous to go out and speak to people as I am a shy girl. Luckily, my boyfriend was able to accompany me and push me to go up to people on the streets, workers and/or business owners. With that simple push, I was able to climb out of my shy shell and go beyond my boundaries of comfort. On that day, I realized that most, if not all, San Franciscans are nice. I was able to get the however many contacts we needed for our first assignment and I only got rejected once. From then on, I have grown out of my comfort zone and became comfortable with talking to strangers.
On the other hand, the neighborhood of North Beach is filled with history and culture. Having grown up in the Bay Area my whole life, I would always simply just pass through it. It wasn’t until now, until this semester, that I realized that the neighborhood is filled with many things to do. The City Lights Bookstore was the first thing on my list of things to do. Of course, it held up to my expectations and it had a wide variety of books that I wanted to purchase. However, it was the drinks and food in the neighborhood that I was drawn to. Before I would start walking around North Beach, I would stop by Caffe Greco to buy myself a cup of their hot white chocolate. Other cafes that I stopped by were Cafe Puccini and Cafe Trieste. Victoria Pastry was definitely one of my favorite bakeries that sold tons of Italian delicacies. Surely, I always enjoyed a cannoli during my break in the neighborhood.
Aside from the neighborhood, I feel as if my reporting skills have grown. As I said earlier, I am quite the shy girl. It was definitely hard for me at first to go up to people who I did not know and ask them questions. Though as the semester progressed, I started to feel the confidence in me grow. The anxiety I would get before I would make even a simple phone call is now gone. The nerves to go up to someone on the street is also gone. My writing skills, I feel, has also developed. With every report and rewrite that I had done, I strived to follow the editing marks that Professor Daley wrote on my papers. Surely, sometimes I do hate being criticized, but the criticism does help. It is better to receive criticism now from someone who had experience than in the future newsroom that I hope to work in.
As a note to the future student who will be assigned to North Beach next semester – do not be afraid to go up to the businesses and ask the workers there what life is like in the neighborhood. You would be surprised as to how many of them are kind enough to actually talk to you. Go into Gino and Carlo’s and talk to some of the old Italian folk there! If you are of age, grab a drink at the bar and spark up some conversation about the “old” Little Italy. Enjoy the food there! Visit the Beat Museum. Walk up the Filbert steps that lead to Coit Tower and enjoy the view. Grant Avenue is filled with tiny shops that sell the most interesting things. Do not forget to also check out the non-profit organizations that are located in North Beach. Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center and North Beach Citizens will always welcome an individual who is interested in what they do. Also, the new North Beach library is bound to be open by the time you will be reporting.
Reporting in North Beach this semester is something that I will always remember and mark as the start of my journalism career. Yes, I did shed some tears as the amount of work in the class was very stressful and demanding. However, I know it will benefit me in the long run.