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Jessica Lum, 25: a young journalist loses her battle with cancer

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Photo by Diana Jou.At Mission Local, the newsblog affiliated with UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, they’re mourning the death of reporter Jessica Lum, better known as Jess, who died Sunday with a rare form of cancer. She was 25. Lum had announced her illness on Facebook back in 2008, two years before starting at Berkeley, this way: “To be perfectly honest, I hate the situation I’m in—I’m dying. No matter what I do, the truth is, I’m dying. This cancer will most likely kill me, a few years down the road, maybe sooner.”

Mission Local’s Lydia Chavez posts a moving piece about the young journalist. There’s an excerpt after the jump, which includes links to some of Lum’s fine work. There’s also this 2009 Sac Bee piece about her after she was diagnosed. Mission Local’s photo is by Diana Jou.

By the time she arrived at Berkeley in the fall of 2010, Jess was symptom free and had managed to get rid of most of these on-line postings so that few here knew she had been seriously ill.  No one would have guessed.


Mission Local would have been enough to keep most people busy, but Jess had way too many interests to be tied down.  She went to South Korea with her video class and produced work for the Washington Post.

Her Master’s Project entailed several week-long trips to Slab City. At the end of it, she created an award-winning website of images and videos on those who drop out to live in the southern California desert squat.  To finance her project, she ran a successful Kickstarter campaign.

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