Sarahmaria Gomez is a multimedia journalist and lecturer at Medill. She is also the advisor for Medill's chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. For the past nine summers, she has worked as an instructor with Northwestern’s National High School Institute, known as the Cherub program.
Before becoming a Medill lecturer, Gomez founded Tu Multimedia, a Chicago-based multimedia company, with photographer Alex Fledderjohn. Gomez talks about the mission behind her company and why she enjoys teaching the Cherubs.
The goal of Tu Multimedia is to cover people doing good in the world, whether it’s an individual, or a nonprofit, or an organization, or a business, according to Gomez. Anyone who’s doing something positive that is helping other people and making a difference, that’s what we cover, she says.
Gomez says her driving force is a deep love for journalism and telling people’s stories. She feels that every time she interviews somebody, their stories become part of her. “I’m always growing and learning more about the world, and that’s exactly what I want to be doing,” Gomez says.
The best part of the job, she says, is getting to sit down with people and really trying to get them to open up. She focuses on the words, and Fledderjohn focuses on the visuals. “When we get to come back and put it together and tell the story, it’s a beautiful thing,” she says.
Gomez explains that digital storytelling is exciting, but there are a lot of challenging things. “You’re not only thinking about what you’re going to ask the person, but you’re also thinking—Is the sound good? Is the light right? Is our equipment functioning correctly? Are we going to capture this correctly? And not only correctly, but artistically. Are we going to be able to make this story shine?"
Medill Cherub Program
Each summer for five weeks, Gomez commits herself wholly to the Medill Cherubs program, which brings journalistically driven high school juniors from around the U.S. (and the world) to Medill for a crash course in digital, print, audio and broadcast journalism.
“I teach all the broadcast labs, and on Sunday nights, we have what we call technology tutorial,” Gomez explains. “Each week I introduce something new to the kids. We do video shooting and editing, we do podcasting and audio, I bring Alex in and we do photojournalism. Then we teach them how to put their work on the web, and we really try to give them all the tools they need so they can at least have a taste of all of the different facets that journalism has to offer.”
Though Gomez has taught multimedia to a wide range of age groups, the Cherub program is her favorite. “These kids are so hungry for journalism,” she says. “Each year, I find myself thinking, we should try something new. Can they get it, can they do this new project? And they never fail me. They always rise to the occasion. I always push them harder every year, and they always respond. That’s what I love about teaching so much.”