Strong work ethic sustains paper’s legacy


Cody Casares / The Advocate

Incoming Editor-in-Chief Denis Perez speaks during his election speech.

By Roxana Amparo, Editor-in-Chief

When entering the room and seeing his name on the chalkboard, Photo Editor Denis Perez knew he had been elected as The Advocate’s editor-in-chief for the 2017-18 fall and spring semester.

Perez ran against two candidates, Associate Editor Michael Santone and Social Media Editor Efrain Valdez and won by a majority vote on May 10.

While the election took place, the three candidates were asked to leave the room.

As Perez, Santone and Valdez walked back into the Newsroom, located in AA-215, one name was left circled on the board, Perez, in an election run solely by the Advocate Editorial Board..

It has been a tradition since 1965 for The Advocate staff to elect its own editor-in-chief rather than have one appointed by a journalism professor.

“When I saw my name on the board, I thought about the people inside that know journalism and what it means to be a leader, taking into consideration everyone’s individuality of course,” Perez said. “I did feel a sense of accomplishment of being able to take on a responsibility that I may not be ready for.”

When he arrived at Contra Costa College, Perez said he started as a journalism major, but has now found a sense of direction in the field he wants to pursue, which is photojournalism.

“I got a camera in December 2014 and I see photojournalism as telling people’s stories through (photography),” Perez said.

As photo editor, Perez is in charge of taking photos for the weekly newspaper, but has taken it upon himself to learn multiple areas of media production.

His duties range from taking photographs, creating multimedia productions, writing articles, designing pages, circulating the paper and actively participating in Editorial Board meetings to doing things as small as washing the dishes.

Perez spends countless hours in the Newsroom, Monday through Friday, to ensure he is completing the many tasks that he is responsible for.

“You can call it learning to be a jack of all trades. You should learn everything about the newspaper. I am able to talk about different sections (in the paper) and know what can be done better because I have experienced it before,” Perez said.

Journalism professor Paul DeBolt has seen Perez mature through the two years the photographer has been on staff.

“I noticed when he went through periods where he wasn’t really taking himself seriously,” DeBolt said.

“It was at the national convention (Associated Collegiate Press National College Media Convention) in Washington D.C. in October where it was like a switch flipped and he was all over the place taking pictures,” DeBolt said.

“He took it upon himself to cover the protests and marches and did some outstanding work with his photo and multimedia stories after the election,” DeBolt said.

Throughout Perez’ time at The Advocate, one attribute has contributed most to the progress the young journalist has made.

“Patience,” Perez said. “My patience level has improved, even though it gets tested at times. The whole process of growing together as a group has been fun. We are a new group and patience is going to be needed to develop our skills,” he said.

Perez said over the last two semesters he started to put himself on the forefront by covering protests and marches.

“If I humbled myself a bit more, I knew I could grow even more during all of the protests and marches.”

DeBolt said Perez is a positive person and has the ability to relate to people. “He is quietly confident. He is competent. He is not afraid to work hard,” the professor said.

Perez is the third editor-in-chief from El Cerrito High School who has led The Advocate. He is a 2014 graduate of ECHS.

“He is learning about journalism. He is in the process of understanding what is takes to be a serious journalist in 2017,” DeBolt said.

Sports/Opinion Editor Robert Clinton has seen Perez grow throughout his time on staff with The Advocate.

“Denis, is what I like to call feast or famine, meaning he is either going to do great or do bad. But I respect him because you don’t put yourself in a position to succeed without trying,” Clinton said.

“I respect his work ethic and how he immerses himself in any project that he is a part of. I am confident that he is confident in his ability to do this job and that’s the first step.”