We Caught Up With Templar Yearbook Alumni Dominique “Peak”Johnson
Dominique Johnson may have started from the bottom like many Temple journalism majors, but since graduating from the School of Media and Communication, he has made a name for himself. In early January, he acquired a position covering media and technology at Al Día News Media, a company that documents issues facing the city’s Hispanic community, and his stride doesn’t stop there. He is a blogger for the Huffington Post, Geekadelphia (a publication covering technology news in Philadelphia) and he works part-time for Keystone Crossroads, a program that partners with WHYY.
A Philadelphia native, Johnson wanted to be a journalist ever since he was a child. He began his writing career in 2002, contributing to the Project HOME publication The North Philly Metropolis until 2008 and from there began writing for the Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Philadelphia Weekly. During his undergraduate career, Johnson contributed to the Temple News and served as a section editor for the Templar Yearbook.
Johnson said his position as the yearbook’s People section editor prepared him for the career opportunities he received after graduation.
“I really miss my days at Templar,” Johnson said. “It was great to be part of its community and matter.”
Johnson said his work at Templar taught him how to be an editor. Chelsey Hamilton, one of Johnson’s freelance editors on Templar who eventually became the People editor and Managing editor for the publication, emphasized that Johnson went “above and beyond” in his position.
“He went out of his way to schedule once a week meetings for the staff writers under him,” Hamilton said. “He didn’t have to do that.”
Johnson made his mark at Temple in his introductory “Writing for Journalism” class that teaches journalism majors the basics of reporting. Vernon Clark, his former teacher for the class and a retired reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer, said Johnson showed early signs of his ability to succeed in his journalism profession.
“I found him to be very energetic, very inquisitive and very focused in North Philadelphia, reporting on the community quite well,” Clark said. “Many of the stories that he wrote for the class really showed his knowledge about North Philadelphia.”
Johnson said he enjoys working in Philadelphia and has had a great start at Al Día so far—he debuted his first cover story for the publication in February.
“It’s been great being around other journalists and being around my craft,” he said. “I’m breaking out of my comfort zone by doing new things.”
Johnson said at Al Día he has exposed himself to more breaking news pieces and works on a more deadline-oriented schedule. He does not know any Spanish, but tries to pick up new words when he can in meetings at the news organization, which he said is “pretty cool.” Johnson said he does not only cover issues that affect Philadelphia’s Latino community, but other minority communities in the city as well. Johnson mostly reports on technology for Al Día and strives to cover more events in the Latino community.
Johnson said one has to be passionate in journalism in order to thrive in this career path.
“Journalism is hard to break into and you’re not going to get paid a lot, but I do it because I believe it really helps people,” he said. “If you want to go in this field, connect with others and make yourself known. Always be the first and last in the classroom and in the newsroom.”
Written by Sienna Vance
Photos Courtesy of Dominique “Peak” Johnson