By Melissa Vasquez
Ruxandra Guidi wants to help students improve their storytelling — a craft that has fascinated and driven the new UA School of Journalism professor since her days growing up in Caracas, Venezuela.
“A lot of the things that I would hear (from friends and family) and on the radio and newspapers … were the early seeds of my interest in journalism and current affairs,” said Guidi, who immigrated to the United States when she was 14 with her mother.
A freelance reporter, editor and teacher for two decades, Guidi also specializes in audio reporting and podcasting and has contributed to High Country News, the BBC’s The World, NPR’s Latino USA, The Guardian and the Kitchen Sisters. With her husband she created the Fonografia Collective website with her husband, focusing on “empathetic and culturally sensitive documentary storytelling about everyday people around the world.”
Guidi succeeds retired Professor Terry Wimmer as the instructor and editor for Arizona Sonora News, the school’s capstone media course. She’s excited about helping students “dream up” unique approaches to stories while learning how to report on the community and the border.
“And I'm really excited about coming up with projects that we can do together as a class,” such as podcasting or a long-form magazine with a theme, “encouraging students to pursue their own approach to storytelling,” Guidi said.
Guidi studied political science at Rutgers University, where she rediscovered her passion for current affairs and social justice issues.
“It was kind of like a little ‘aha’ moment for me,” Guidi said. “It's like, ‘Oh, this is kind of how to explain what I love, how to make myself useful in what I love and if there's a name to it.”
She later obtained a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, where her passion for storytelling deepened and she learned about NPR’s The Kitchen Sisters podcast.
“Rux is a gifted storyteller who works across platforms and looks for new ways to tell stories in intelligent, thoughtful and sensitive ways,” UA School of Journalism Director Carol Schwalbe said.
Guidi values journalism that goes beyond facts and into the the understanding of what really affects people and their lives in a comprehensive way. She likes to challenge stereotypes.
“We can be balanced and we can be fair,” Guidi said. “But I (also) believe in standing on the side of justice or in the side of what's right. …
“It boils down to really listening, really thinking about the role you play, how your stories influence public opinion and how your stories influence the way that you're seen as a journalist,” Guidi said.
She added: “I mean, we're in a moment right now where America was just added to a list by the Committee to Protect Journalists for the very first time as a place that could be dangerous to journalists. That's very serious in my mind.
“There’s this feeling against those ideas of like enemy of the people and journalists just going around, starting trouble are telling lies, fake news. I mean, I think we have an incredibly important mission, but it's often misunderstood.”