UCSB’s Focus Media Journal: A Graduate Level Opportunity for Undergrad Students


Kassandra Gutierrez

Have you ever felt so confident about an essay and believed it deserved more recognition than a course itself can give? The Focus Media Journal at University of California, Santa Barbara gives writers the opportunity to publish their work and have it acknowledged at the prestigious academic level. The journal includes essays based on three main topics: new media, film, and television. It is published once a year during the end of spring quarter, around graduation time.

This scholarly journal was founded in the UCSB Film and Media Studies department in 1979. Founder Joe Palladino says, “It has existed in some form, from mimeograph, to magazine, to journal for 35 plus years.” He continues, “It gives students a chance to get published on almost a graduate level,” and explains how even though experienced writers and graduate students can normally see their work published at that level, as an undergrad the journal is able to provide students with a similar opportunity.

“Students of all different majors submit. Sometimes it is papers from classes, and that’s the easiest way you can just turn things in, and sometimes you get a group of students who are interested in what’s going on in the emergence of media,” says Palladino. “Sometimes it’s an interview with alumni who come back and see what’s going on.” He also mentions that one issue included excerpts from an autobiography in screenplay format, written by a screenwriter and UCSB professor.

The journal also gives students the opportunity to gain experience in the production process of the journal by offering a number of roles one could take on, such as a writer, editor, copy editor, photographer, and layout. Focus Media is run mostly by students, and each year the journal gives out $1,000 to the best critical essay published.

You can find some journals online, at the Film and Media Studies offices, as well as in the Museum of Arts in New York. Joe Palladino says that they are still looking to build the crew and establishing an online journal, but they do like the idea of having it printed on paper and being able to hold the physical copy.

Essay submissions for the journal are taken up until the end of winter quarter. Students from all majors are highly encouraged to submit any essays on the subjects of television, new media, and film. All sorts of topics are admissible; last year, the issue featured an essay on the use of mathematical jokes throughout The Simpsons. With some creativity, almost anything can be written about. Film students are also encouraged to submit essays they have been working on throughout their film courses, including introduction to cinema, film and media criticism, and any other upper division film courses.