He’s reported from around the world. Now he wants to do it in his own neighborhood.

Journalism student José da Silva has spent his summer helping cover local stories at the free alternative newspaper, DigBoston. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Growing up in the quiet suburban town of Duxbury, Massachusetts, José da Silva didn’t pay particular attention to the news. He liked to read and write, so his favorite subjects in school were English and history. 

In the years since his graduation, though, da Silva has traveled the world, reporting on communities in Cuba and Panama. The experience cemented his love of journalism and now, he says, he’s found his passion.

Now a fourth-year journalism student at Northeastern, da Silva has traveled the world during his time at the university. 

He was admitted through the N.U.in program, and spent his first semester in London. Then, after his first year of college, he went on the journalism program’s Dialogue of Civilization trip and spent a month reporting from Havana, Cuba. And just this spring he took an embedded journalism course, where his class traveled to Panama over spring break—just before COVID-19 travel concerns emerged.

He credits the reporting trips with helping him figure out that he really wanted to pursue journalism as a career, an opportunity he didn’t get in high school.

“My school had a tiny magazine; we didn’t have a high school newspaper, so there wasn’t an opportunity to feel it out in high school,” da Silva says. “I was like, ‘I’m going to see if I like it,’ and I liked it a lot, so I decided I would go to Cuba and then I’ll really know the difference between liking this and really doing it. After the trip, I knew this is what I want to be doing”

And to da Silva, reporting on a local community just made sense. He reported on surf culture and the rising popularity of soccer in Havana, and on extreme sports and cayuco races in Panama City—local stories he wanted to showcase. da Silva took the same approach at home, too: He had never wanted to be the type of student to stick strictly to campus, he wanted to get to know Boston more personally. 

Currently, da Silva is working at the alternative weekly newspaper DigBoston, through a connection he made while on co-op in Northeastern’s Office of City and Community Engagement as a marketing assistant. 

Part of why he was drawn to the position, da Silva says, is because it would give him a wide variety of experience, and allow him to work in the local community.

“I didn’t want to work for a big corporate company—what drew me to journalism was doing a job that matters beyond someone’s bottom line,” da Silva says. 

He was on co-op with city and community engagement from July through December of 2019, and worked there part time through June 2020. He worked on a variety of projects, from social media to promoting free events, and worked on ads for local papers, including DigBoston.

So when da Silva was looking for work for the summer, he had the connection to DigBoston and reached out to them. He’s spent the last two months helping with marketing and research, as well as reporting for them. 

Part of why he likes DigBoston so much, da Silva says, is because it helps him get to know the area and change the perspective he has coming from a more affluent town. 

He’s always wanted to move somewhere new after graduating, and he’d like to work at a local paper, getting to know a new place. While he understands the importance of national outlets, da Silva says it just isn’t the same as a local paper.

“Not all issues are national issues and when you lose the local papers, you lose the feel for what matters for the community you’re in,” da Silva says. “And issues in communities are best solved within the community.”

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