MAGAZINE: Newscene alumna makes move to professional ranks

Christina Painton, now a morning producer in Waco, Texas, was Newscene’s executive producer last fall

Christina Painton, Newcene

Christina Painton works behind the scenes of Newscene, San Diego City College’s student-produced TV news program. Newscene file photo

Kathryn Gray, Contributor

Legend Magazine CoverThis story originally appeared in the fall 2020 edition of the Legend Magazine.

When faced with hardship or doubt, Christina Painton follows her curiosity and creates opportunities. Driven, confident and incredibly knowledgeable about the craft of producing television news, you’d never know journalism was a new career for Painton.

But the same day the fall semester ends at San Diego City College, Painton will start a new job as morning show producer in Waco, Texas for KRHD-KXXV.

One of Painton’s favorite things about producing is the teamwork involved.

“Everything we do in journalism is based on relationships,” Painton said. “It is about connecting with people.”

Painton learned to work closely with a team in new ways while producing Newscene, San Diego City College’s Emmy-winning TV news broadcast, remotely during the pandemic.

“I feel like I am lucky in terms of when I started in Newscene,” she said. “I got to experience everything in person, now I get to experience everything remotely. I feel very fortunate I got to learn those two sets of skills because they are very different.”

Painton produced the Newscene broadcast that this semester was honored with the national Pacemaker Award by the Associated College Press, widely considered one of the top awards on college media. Read all about the award here.

Originally from Los Angeles, Painton moved to San Diego initially to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology.

But Painton experienced paralyzing burnout and grief from losing a family member early on in her psychology studies. She was ready for a change and wasn’t sure what was next.

This was a pivotal time in Painton’s life.

“It was filled with a lot of life circumstances and drama and growing up and figuring out what I liked and what I didn’t like,” she said.

It had become a nighttime routine, entertaining her curiosity, to look at City College classes online.

She always thought the journalism courses looked interesting and decided it could be the change she was looking for.

She registered for an associate’s degree in radio and quickly realized that field was not for her.

Christina Painton was part of the team that covered Senator Bernie Sanders’ immigration rally in December 2019. Photo by Vicky Pineda

She was, however, surprisingly intrigued by television news and wanted to learn everything she could from the classes that staff Newscene.

“I was a little intimidated to join Newscene because of how fast-paced everything was and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep up,” Painton said.

That was at the start of the spring 2019 semester. And even with a room full of veterans — students can have up to five semesters to work through the sequence of Newscene classes — she seized every opportunity to learn in the newsroom and was quickly producing entire weekly shows.

Painton’s production work at Newscene led her to an internship at San Diego’s ABC affiliate, 10News. It was during this internship that Painton realized she wanted to strengthen her writing and reporting skills.

Painton then became a staff writer at City Times, the college’s award-winning student digital news website and newspaper, while adding the role of executive producer for Newscene. It marked the first time the position had been created for the duration of the academic term.

Painton’s advice to aspiring journalists is to “try everything.”

“I really didn’t know what was available for me in the field when I started,” she said. “I basically tried everything. I literally tried everything.”

It was through trying everything that Painton ended up finding her true passion and fulfilling a dream she had been putting aside since childhood.

“I cannot believe that is what I am getting paid to do,” Painton said.

 Kathryn Gray was a student in the DJRN 200, Newswriting for Multimedia, during the fall 2020 semester. Follow Christina Painton on Instagram, christinaninashow.

City Times Media is recruiting for the spring 2021 term.

To join City Times and Legend, enroll in DJRN  210. For TV news, join RTVF 145. Radio also returns in the spring. Check out RTVF 130. Start the enrollment process here.