Memories of a College Journalist: Promotions & Reviews

The author (center) in a candid shot taken in the Production Room during a lighthearted moment with Graphics Editor Robert Tamayo and Production Manager Jennie Ahrens. (Jim Linn photo)

Greetings, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Monday, August 23, 2021. It’s hot and sticky outside. The current temperature is 85˚F (29˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 60% and the wind blowing at a weak 1 MPH (1 KM/H) from the south-southwest, it feels like 94˚F (34˚C). Today’s forecast calls for scattered rain showers and a high of 92˚F (32˚C). Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 76˚F (25˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 62 or Moderate.

When I studied journalism at Miami-Dade Community College’s South Campus, I started out as a staff writer in the Diversions (entertainment) section of our student paper. Catalyst. This was the same beat I covered for The Serpent’s Tale, South Miami High’s school newspaper during my sophomore and senior years, and I thought that I’d probably stick to that beat for at least the rest of the 1985-1986 academic year.

My journalism professor, Peter C. Townsend, thought that I had more potential, so when he noticed that I was curious, eager to learn, and a keen eye for factual and grammatical errors, he put me to work in other sections of the paper. So not only did I write articles for Diversions, but I also submitted stories for Opinions, News, and Features.

I also was promoted twice during my first semester on the staff. The first one was from Staff Writer to Assistant Opinions Editor. This happened not long after my first article – the one about the College’s first foray into recording LP albums featuring three groups from the campus’ Music Department –  was published in late September of 1985.

EOE Catalyst Student Newspaper, South Campus. This photo was taken about a year before I joined the staff, but that Editwriter typesetter was one of the tools I used the most during my four years at Miami-Dade.

Not long after I settled into my new job as Assistant Opinions Editor, I was kicked upstairs to the position of Copy Editor, which means I had to proofread all the “copy” of every section of the Catalyst. It was not a managerial position where I assigned writers to do stories – that came later – but more of a quality control one. If I noticed any errors of spelling, grammar, or fact that slipped by the notice of the individual section editors, I had to mark it so the person who worked on the Editwriter typesetting machine could correct it before we sent the layouts to the printer. More commonly, though, I did the edits on the typesetter (Prof. Townsend taught me how!) since it saved us valuable time.

One of the benefits of being a Copy Editor is that my name was added to the paper’s masthead. My name was also on The Serpent’s Tale masthead, but in 10th grade that only happened by a twist of fate caused by turnover in the editorial staff before the winter break. [1]  In that instance, my friend Maggie Jimenez and I volunteered as co-editors of the Entertainment section after several members of the editorial staff resigned due to a controversial article in the December 1980 issue. It took half a school year to go from reporter to editor in 10th grade. At Miami-Dade, it took me less than a month.

Anyway, even though I did return to my roots as Diversions Editor several years later, I submitted stuff to every section of Catalyst in my four-year gig there. I even did a brief submission to the Sports page once.

I earned an Outstanding Contribution Award for my work on the newspaper staff during the 1985-86 academic year. (Official Miami-Dade College photo)

Here’s a book review I wrote as Managing Editor of Catalyst for the August 23, 1989 issue of Catalyst:

(C) 1988 G.P. Putnam’s Sons

‘Cardinal’ is classic Clancy

Cardinal of the Kremlin

By Tom Clancy

(Putnam, hardcover retail: $19.99)

Summer, that prime time for readers, may be over, but Tom Clancy’s Cardinal of the Kremlin, the third entry in the Jack Ryan series, is a spy novel for all seasons.

Ryan, a CIA analyst introduced in Clancy’s first novel, The Hunt for Red October, finds himself in a web of intrigue involving a highly-placed “mole” – code-named “Cardinal” – in the Kremlin, a husband-and-wife CIA team stationed in Moscow, KGB surveillance teams, Afghan rebels and a race between American and Soviet scientists to develop a Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) system.

Although this sounds complex, Cardinal is fast-paced and engrossing. And although there’s a lot of gadgetry involved, don’t expect Ryan to give you James Bond-style heroics.

As in his previous novels (Red October, Red Storm Rising and Patriot Games), Clancy manages to describe the “tricks of the trade” of modern espionage as accurately as possible, while at the same time crafting an entertaining storyline. – Alex Diaz-Granados, August 23, 1989


[1] For a look at some of my experiences in 10th grade, read here.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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