Valerie Osier found her love for journalism while at Riverside Community College and graduated from the CSULB journalism program in 2017. She started as a freelancer for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and shortly thereafter became a reporter for the Daily Breeze before joining the Long Beach Post. She loves telling people’s stories, getting out of her comfort zone and experimenting with different ways to tell those stories and engage the community.
The first big story I worked on will always stick with me for many reasons: It was the first time I experienced the nuances of telling multiple sides of a heated debate, it was the first of many times that reporting really informed my own opinions and changed them and it was the first time I saw how journalism can actually make people think, feel and act.
The story, written in the fall of 2015, was called “No paperwork, no pay: Student president goes unpaid without documentation.”
It was about how the Associated Students Inc. president Jose Salazar couldn’t legally get paid for his job as president because he was undocumented. He had a side job that impeded on his presidential duties. We heard about it from another reporter who was involved in some of the organizations that were supporting him.
The first interview with the student president initially had me feeling bad for the guy, but then I interviewed the vice president, who was also undocumented. She explained to me that she was able to get paid because she had DACA— and she and others in ASI all but took Salazar to the post office to turn his paperwork in.
I won’t get all the way into it, but the story had a lot of nuance and a lot of different sides. I learned how to navigate that as a reporter. I also learned a lot about the immigration system and how much it costs people who are subject to it.
After the story was published, I started to see how journalism could make an impact. I covered ASI Senate every week, and usually I was one of a handful of people in the audience. At the first meeting the Senate was supposed to vote on a proposal that would change the ASI executives’ pay structure, the Senate chambers overflowed with people— some even holding my article.
I asked one guy, “What brought you here?” and he replied, “I read about this in the paper, and I wanted to see what would happen.”
That’s when I realized the true power of my job, and when I realized I wanted to work in journalism, specifically local journalism. I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to still get to do that job today.