Jacinta Molina is a Chilean student who joined UvA’s Graduate School of Communication last September to study Political Communication in the second year of her Erasmus Mundus Master’s in Journalism, Media and Globalisation. MEDIUM sat down with her on Friday to talk about her career so far, her experiences and interests, and the differences between life and education in Latin America and Europe.
Hello Jacinta! Could you briefly present yourself?
Hi! I’m Jacinta Molina, from Chile, and I studied journalism as my bachelor’s. I worked in print and TV news for six years as a journalist and reporter before I enrolled in graduate-level studies in Europe. Currently, I’m part of the two-year Erasmus Mundus Master’s in Journalism, Media and Globalisation. The first year, I studied in Aarhus, Denmark, and now, for the second year, I chose Politics and Media so the destination had to be UvA.
All right, so you began working right after you finished your studies?
Yes, but before graduating I interned with a free-to-view TV network called Canal 13. Then I worked for a year at La Segunda, a daily newspaper covering Chilean national and political affairs. After that, I held many different jobs, even doing production work! Then, in April 2014, I arrived at CNN Chile.
How were those experiences working for different media for you?
They were superb experiences. Now, when we study journalism from a more theoretical lens, I have my own practical background from all those years to complement it. Also, I was very lucky because I was given many opportunities and could perform various different tasks within those media. For instance, I covered different topics as a reporter, I went live on air sometimes, which has in turn led to some opportunities covering news from Europe occasionally. Still, it was stressful, too. The workload was immense and there’s little time. Both in TV or print news, the focus was on hard news, so I was dealing with topics that change rapidly and that require reaching out to politicians. I had to stay on top of what was being written by newspapers and what was happening, or else I could easily make a mistake.
So, based on these experiences, not only at work but also in education, how do you see life in Europe? Also, after your experiences in Denmark and the Netherlands, how’s education in Europe compared to Chile and Latin America?
Well, education here in Europe is much better. The infrastructure and resources at UvA really caught my eye, and also the fact that it is widely recognised for its communication faculty. In terms of an international environment, so to speak, there’s a bigger sense of an international community at UvA than at Aarhus University. However, my master’s programme is very international by nature, so I have always had the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world. On a different note, life in Europe is more expensive and the locals are friendly yet the interaction with them is a bit colder than with latinos, who are more extroverted, but it’s been interesting to know a different culture, and to see things working properly. This perspective has also allowed me to evaluate what I miss and do not miss from home, and has provided me with a more critical view on everything in general. For example, when being taught how the job theoretically is, my working experience allows me to assess whether it is actually like that or not, or helps me make more sense of some aspects I’d had no time to reflect on when I was too busy working.
You had different options to choose from for your second year of the Mundus and you chose Amsterdam for its political programme, right? What sparked your interest in the Mundus Master’s and in UvA?
Well, I had been thinking about my graduate studies since I was still an undergraduate, around 2011-2012. When I started working, I would go to the network and then I would start looking for different options as soon as I got home. I was interested in programmes in the US and Europe, but the latter always stood out because it was cheaper and, more importantly, because of Europe’s cultural diversity and being able to easily move within it. Also, around that time, there were more things happening in Europe than in the US – refugees, migration situation and other political discussions- and, given my longtime interest in both national and international politics, Europe seemed like a good destination where to look for a master’s that would combine all these things, plus journalism. It wasn’t easy to find that in Europe, however, because most curricula were a bit too theoretical, too short or the same that I had already studied in Chile. I mean, I wasn’t looking for courses on writing or filming for journalists. Coincidentally, I kept coming back to the Erasmus Mundus Master’s. Then it all made sense: it’s the most global programme, it’s very theoretical yet it allows me to gain a broader perspective of the world, and that’s what I wanted.
Now that you’re already a part of these studies, do you think you were right in your choice? Do you like it?
Yes, totally. It was the best decision. It’s not very common in Chile, or elsewhere, that journalists that have already began their careers go back to studying. There’s this notion that you learn on the streets and that the more years you spend out there, the more skillful you become. Nevertheless, I think it is necessary to stop and reconsider what one is doing and whether one’s doing it correctly or not. Here, I have learnt many things beyond my personal and cultural development. Spending a long time away from Chile and from what’s familiar and comfortable for me, with the additional challenge of a different language, has been an all-win situation. Regardless of the financial prospects for journalists back home or whether I get as good a job as I’m hoping, I’m very happy with my choice.
Speaking of future prospects, what are your plans when you finish you graduate studies? Will you go back to Chile, will you stay in Europe or go somewhere else?
I’m thinking about it… As an international student I have this opportunity to apply for a one-year Orientation Visa -from the Dutch Government-, but it will depend on having a project to be a part of, on having the economic means to stay, etc. Going back to Chile is definitely in my plans, maybe I would like to postpone it for one more year, I’m not sure, but I will go back because my family calls. I often miss my dear ones, but I would like to try my hand at international reporting, which is something I have been able to do very briefly while studying here. Even when funds for correspondents and reporters diminish as the media focus on local, less costly stories, I think there’s a window of opportunity for doing some work as a freelance correspondent.
Finally, what advice or experiences can you offer to someone who may be aspiring to become a journalist or a TV reporter?
Let me be clear: be very, very patient! You’ll have to work very hard, with much dedication and constance because even when you’re out of university you won’t stop studying. Don’t worry because we all start off as “children” and become inured and hardened through experience and practice. Don’t ever be discouraged, for it’s all part of a learning process in the end, and dare know more and go abroad. Right now, at least in Chile, older generations of journalists pass down their knowledge but also their own know-hows and their vices accrued over the years to the younger generations and I think we need more than that. In times of change we need more creativity and fresher minds. We need people willing to know the world and eager to know more.
Cover: Renée Sapien / Final Editor: Kyle Hassing