Leader emerges to take helm


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Journalism major Cindy Pantoja talks to The Advocate staff during one of its class meetings on May 8. Pantoja will take over the leadership of the campus news organization this fall as its editor-in-chief.

By Michael Santone, Editor-In-Chief

Having The Advocate staff elect its editor-in-chief (EIC) is a tradition that dates back to the mid-60s and it has continued as Opinion Editor Cindy Pantoja won as an unopposed candidate during the staff election during its News Production class in AA-215 on May 8.

Pantoja will preside with full control over The Advocate, its website (cccadvocate.com) and its social media sites for the 2019-20 academic school year.

“I love The Advocate, honestly, and since no one was stepping up for EIC, I decided to do it.”

Pantoja said. “The Advocate is a place where we have a lot of opportunities — you can learn photography, design, illustration — not just writing. I plan to make people excited about other things that they can do within this news organization.”

Pantoja came onto the staff as a writer in the fall of 2018 and has grown steadily through her two semesters contributing to The Advocate.

Aside from being selected as opinion editor in November, she’s branched out to develop skills in photography, design and even drawing the weekly editorial cartoons.

“I believe in teamwork. I think we all have potential to improve The Advocate,” Pantoja said. “I want to have an editorial board where staffers can bring together their ideas and skills to express them and share them with each other.”

Pantoja said because she’s only been at Contra Costa College for two semesters she is still getting used to the campus, its administrators and the pulse that makes up the student body.

“Readers are mostly students, and as journalists we have to keep them informed,” she said. “I think answering those questions that students have, but can’t ask, is our duty. That is something that I will provide to readers — telling them things that happen on campus that students need to know.”

Journalism department Chairperson Paul DeBolt said Pantoja dedicated herself to The Advocate from the moment she arrived by participating in production on Mondays, proof-reading pages on Tuesdays and immersing herself in every aspect of The Advocate News Organization.

“She (Pantoja) is versatile. She’s got a lot of different skills that make her a true all-around journalist,” DeBolt said. “People respond to her and she’s able to help them and lead them.”

Advocate faculty adviser DeBolt, who was EIC of The Advocate himself in 1974-75, said the toughest part about being the editor-in-chief of The Advocate is grasping the importance of the role and finding the ability to persevere with confidence through the criticism that will inevitably come from all kinds of places on campus.

“There will be some challenges, but she will grow as a leader,” he said. “And that will help her become even more well-rounded as a person and a leader.”

Many of the roles of an EIC will be new to Pantoja, but she said her dedication will keep her focused and, in turn, keep things running smoothly. She hopes her communication skills will help her gain control of a fast-moving newsroom and staff.

“I think I can do it,” Pantoja said. “There’s a lot I need to learn (before the fall), but once I learn all the things I need to, I’m sure it will go well. I’m just going to go with the flow. It’s a learning experience for me also.”

Creative Director Denis Perez said Pantoja has a nurturing aura that is infectious to other students that can easily energize them to do well.

“What she knows, she wants to make sure other staffers know, and what other staffers don’t know, she will push them to try to learn,” Perez said. “I think she will able to tap into the talents of new and returning staff members. It’ll be like a flower she will be able to water and make bloom.”

Perez said because Pantoja has dabbled in a variety of different media that make a news organization function, she’s going into the EIC position with some knowledge about what to expect.

“In the past few years, we haven’t been able to do much multimedia work. I think she’ll be able to continue to move The Advocate toward being more than just a print newspaper.”