Former student calls journalism 'perfect job'
Published: Friday, March 6, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, September 2, 2009 13:09
Zane Alejandro Plemmons-Rosales was a student at this college three years ago, and now he's a journalist in Mexico.
Plemmons, who has epilepsy, didn't believe when he started classes here that he could lead a functional life.
He had a seizure in the mall during a campus festival and a Ranger photographer took a picture of people trying to assist him.
Although The Ranger didn't show his face or name him, Plemmons was extremely upset when he saw the picture upon his release from the hospital.
"I thought it was a grave insult because I was trying to keep this secret," Plemmons said. "I saw it more as trying to put a clown on display."
Plemmons came to the newsroom to complain, and estimates he must have spent two hours yelling at anyone he could.
Nothing came of his complaints because the photo was taken in a public place, and the incident at the festival was newsworthy.
After leaving this college, Plemmons decided to go to school in Mexico because it was substantially cheaper.
There, he found the Mazatlan Pacific Pearl, the only English newspaper in Mexico.
He had grown up reading this magazine and had always wanted to write at least one article for it.
"I always wrote; I just never wrote journalism," he said.
He wrote one article, which got him in the door.
When he was hired, Plemmons was issued a challenge.
"They said they had a story and that 15 reporters had tried for three months to get the story," Plemmons said. "They said that if I could do it in a week, I had the job. I had the story the next day."
"I'm a Mexican that can write in English," he said and explained that this allowed him to get information that wouldn't be available to people who weren't Mexican.
He's the only Mexican native at his paper.
In the time that he has been a journalist, Plemmons has seen two colleagues die because of their stories and he has been assaulted once.
After he was assaulted, he found the men who did it and asked them their reasons. Their answer was simple: They had been paid.
He explained that the reporters who were in the most danger were the people on the crime beats or who worked with politics.
He said that it was common for reporters to be decapitated and for their heads to be sent back to their parents.
He added that it doesn't matter if the criminal or the politician did what the story accuses them of; all that matters is that the reporter insulted their image.
"If you insult his image, he'll insult yours," Plemmons said. "That's why I don't touch (criminal or political stories). I stick with plight of the worker."
Plemmons realized that he couldn't be a "real" doctor because of his epilepsy, so he has decided to remain a journalist.
"Journalism is fun and it's the perfect job," he said.
Plemmons returned to San Antonio because he still has a house here and decided to drop by this campus to say hello to some of his old professors and former co-workers in disability support services.
He also decided to come back to the newsroom to apologize for yelling.
"I don't think I would have come to terms with my epilepsy if things hadn't gone down the way they did," Plemmons said.
"The Ranger was just being a newspaper. A damn good one."