Kayhi class of 2016 graduate Cheyenne Matthews is currently a digital reporter at Alaska News Source, the CBS and NBC affiliate in Anchorage. She graduated from University of Alaska Anchorage in 2019 where she studied Journalism and Public Communications. After graduating she went into the Peace Corps, where she was sent to China. Being there for only a couple months, she was sent home due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I was committed to spending the full 27 months in China as a Peace Corps Volunteer, but since we had to be evacuated due to COVID-19, plans changed,” said Matthews.
Matthews was grateful to have had the experience in China even if it was cut short. She said that it strengthened her journalism career.
“My experience in the Peace Corps made me appreciate how journalism connects us to information we wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” said Matthews.
While living in China she grew a new sense of appreciation for journalism. She said that she relied on it more than ever before but was also given the chance to see something new from her own perspective.
“While living in China, the only way I could really connect with what was happening at home or in the U.S was by reading the news and following local reporting,” said Matthews. “In that way, my experience in the Peace Corps made me appreciate how journalism connects us to information we wouldn’t otherwise have access to. I learned a great deal about how journalism is consumed outside of America and it was interesting to live and make my own conclusions about China instead of relying entirely on news outlets.”
Since leaving China she has started working full time as a journalist. She has only been in the position for 6 months but is happy to be telling Alaskan stories. Matthews said how she enjoyed journalism from the very start.
“My first real experience with journalism was through Kayhi’s The Current. I have always enjoyed writing, but that class showed me the opportunities that exist for the medium outside of our literature and language English classes,” said Matthews.
Mr. Lund was her teacher and showed her a whole new side to journalism. She found a way to incorporate herself into a class and how it could help others.
“Mr. Lund always encouraged us to “write about it” for anything that impacted us, and finding that other people wanted to read what I had to say about life was a really remarkable realization,” said Matthews.
Journalists have been under tough criticism in recent years. She said how challenging the job is when so many are looking for flaws in your essential work.
“Being a journalist now can seem like a double-edged sword. Journalism is essential for holding power structures accountable, uniting communities and informing the public, but reporters have come under heat for doing exactly those things. At the end of the day, if you know your work has merit then keep doing it and other people will realize it too,” said Matthews when asked about being a journalist.
Another obstacle in journalism can be staying ethical. She said that she will always be looking for more ways to stay ethical throughout her career.
Matthews is also up for trying different types of journalism. When asked to cover women’s basketball in college, she took the challenge head on with excitement even though she had never covered sports in her career.
“It was a good opportunity to learn and even though I don’t cover sports usually, I have always been willing to give anything a try,” said Matthews.