“New media, old values.”
That’s what Chris Delboni believes journalism should be about today. This concept helped shape her career as a journalist and is how she now molds new journalists as an instructor at Florida International University.
Delboni left her home in Brazil to study journalism in the United States. In 1993, she began her career as a foreign correspondent in Washington, D.C. After several years in that position, she felt it was time to move on to something else.
She pursued a master’s degree, thinking that becoming a teacher would allow her the opportunity to build “new journalists” who kept to the traditional values of journalism while being able to use new platforms. In September 2009 she became the first news director for the South Florida News Service at Florida International University. Delboni also is an instructor at FIU, teaching students how to maintain the old values of journalism in the new media of today.
Her role at Florida International University goes beyond instructor; she also serves as a mentor through the FIU SPJ chapter. Delboni believes that being an SPJ member is important for her students to become quality journalists.
One of the most important benefits that SPJ provides for Delboni and her students is the ability to collaborate. Her students are able to form a network of academic newsrooms that help them develop their journalism skills. Delboni is able to collaborate with other educators and professionals on ideas for her FIU newsroom.
SPJ also provides them with educational programs that teach journalists how to use new media while remaining ethical and adhering to traditional values of journalism. One of these programs that Delboni recalls being especially beneficial was the “Listen, Learn and Connect” panel this year. The panel highlighted how journalists can better cover stories in communities different from theirs and even report on stories within their own communities.
Just being a member isn’t as significant to Delboni. She wants her students to make the most out of SPJ.
“It is important to meet,” she said. “We meet weekly. I don’t cancel meetings.”
Her dedication to the student chapter earned her the 2014 David L. Eshelman Outstanding Campus Adviser Award.
In addition to adhering to high ethical standards, one value that Delboni wants all of her journalism students to possess is humility.
“Our problem (as journalists) is our egos. If you’re not humble, you’re not a good journalist. You have to listen to understand,” she said. “You have to understand their language and culture. Then you are responsible for helping the audience understand.”
Delboni cares so much about instilling humility in her young journalists that 5 percent of their grade is earned from having a humble attitude in the classroom.
Her hard work and dedication to building quality journalists who understand the field hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Silvana Ordonez, a former student of Delboni’s and now a desk producer at CNBC, said that Delboni’s passion and love for journalists rubs off on her students.
“Chris is wonderful to her students and to her job,” Ordonez said. “She’s very passionate about everything she does. She’s very approachable and can very easily relate to anyone, which is huge at a school like FIU.
“She deeply cares about people and journalism. Anyone who wants to grow in journalism needs a mentor, and Chris is that person for me.”
In addition to teaching, Delboni writes a column for a Brazilian online news service, O Estadão de S.Paulo. Continuing work as an active journalist benefits Delboni’s teaching at the university because she’s able to stay up-to-date with media trends.
Whether it’s from her own work as a foreign correspondent or columnist for O Estadão de S.Paulo or teaching students how to become journalists, Delboni has been influential in the field, reminding us to pair “old values” with “new media.”