by Monica Karlstein, staff writer
|“I came to PR through a backdoor from journalism,” said
Caalim, “and now I am on the other side of the fence.”
Caalim graduated from the University of California at Berkeley
with a bachelor’s degree in English, and went to work as
an anchor at KUAM- TV/Radio on Guam. From there she moved to
KHON-TV in Honolulu. Her rise to the top has not been easy, she
said, and added that persistence was the key.
Caalim had a hard time finding her first job. She almost gave
up after six month of hearing “no thank you” and
receiving rejection letters. She started volunteering at Public
Broadcasting Stations, which brought her into contact with many
interesting people in both the community and the industry, and
that helped her land her first job.
While working at KHON, she was offered a public relations job
at Hilton Hotels. She saw it as an opportunity to try something
new, after being in news for 10 years, and switched careers.
The best side of PR, she said, was travel: “to international
destinations such as China, the Middle East, Australia, and Europe,
[places] that I may otherwise not have had the opportunity to
Another good side is “developing friendships and business
relationships,” she added.
Caalim said the keys to being successful in PR as well as journalism
are being a good writer and being willing to take orders. Other
important qualities are good communication and organization skills.
Even though she likes to work in PR, Caalim said she misses news
because of its writing intensity and the diverse people one meets.
I like the feeling you get,” she said, “when you
know you have a breaking story that your competitors do not have.” That,
said Caalim, is what’s best with journalism.
I also like the rush of adrenalin when you’re at the scene
of a major story to report, or when you’re on an immediate
deadline to write a story that your producer or editor is pressing
you to hurry up and finish.”
Caalim’s speech may have made some students reconsider
their choice of major.
After her speech,” said Roanny Colón, a student
from New York who now lives in Honolulu, “I went to Norma
Kop, a communication academic advisor, to find out how similar
the journalism and PR education is. I am now thinking about taking
a minor in PR instead of only a major in journalism. It opens
up so much more and it will benefit me to learn both PR and journalism.”
John Windrow, who teaches one of the JOUR 3000 sections at HPU,
works as assignment editor at The Honolulu Advertiser. Windrow
said it is a good idea to combine PR and journalism studies,
especially today when the line between them is getting vaguer.
However, according to Kop, not many degree-seeking students actually
double major. “It depends on the students’ goal,” said
Kop, “in what area they want to work, and how much time
they have for studies, whether it is necessary to combine subjects
like that.” She speaks from experience, having worked in
journalism, public relations, and marketing.
The major requirements for PR and journalism have some courses
in common such as Introduction to Journalism, News Writing, and
Graphic Design. Kop said that the unrestricted elective courses
provide students’ the opportunity to broaden their degree
studies at HPU.
These courses are outside of the general education or core category,
as well as lower-and upper-division requirements for the major,” Kop
said. She added that students should check with their academic
advisor regarding using unrestricted electives to double major.
The question still remains, what program to choose? Kop and Caalim
agree that students must make their own decision.
Caalim said: “Neither PR nor journalism is going to be
easy, but whatever you do, never take things personally. Just
keep struggling. It is when you follow your dreams that you become