Journalism Internships: Voices
Krystal Hicks, '07
Krystal Hicks ’07 did her internship as a full-time reporter in the New Hampshire bureau of the Eagle-Tribune of N. Andover, Mass. Here’s what she says about the experience:
I loved the people at the E-T. We all got along so well and we could joke around about the job, but deadlines were always made. It was professional and enjoyable at the same time. I was thrown into the job from day one (a reporter got injured, so I took over his beat), and I made the front page many times during the semester. I pitched a lot of my own story ideas, and in my last week one of my stories, about hearing loss in the military, was the Sunday A-1 centerpiece. That was a GREAT feeling. I worked on that piece for about a month while juggling everything else on the side. The Massachusetts edition of the paper put the story on the cover, too, so it was definitely the finale of my internship. My editors were psyched for me. I walked away a different, and better, journalist.
Marcus Weisgerber, '04
From Katrina to Capitol Hill
I had just taken what would be my only shower of the week, but hygiene did not matter -- not here; not now. Sitting on a dock along a bank of the Mississippi River at sunset, just weeks after Hurricane Katrina destroyed many sections of New Orleans, I contemplated possible leads for the story I would file on how the New Hampshire National Guard was helping in the recovery efforts.
As I watched tree limbs and other debris floating by in the murky brown water, part of me left the storm-ravaged city and returned to the Durham office of my Newswriting professor, Jane Harrigan. I could hear her reminding me of the importance a good lead plays in each article. I needed to get the readers’ attention, which today would not be too difficult. Just hours earlier, I’d accompanied four soldiers as they helped a local resident enter a severely flood-damaged home. The putrid stench of several-week-old mold and mildew still filled my nostrils.
Conveying detailed descriptions of my surroundings was essential to these New Orleans articles. There is no way I would have been able to accomplish this, or other assignments during my young career, without the preparation I received during my time in the UNH journalism program.
Small classes and one-on-one interaction between teacher and student are the program’s greatest assets. Teachers not only know your name, they know what is happening in your life. If one professor is not available, another will surely be nearby to help. The discussion-oriented journalism classes also gave me the opportunity to brainstorm ideas and issues with my peers and professors. The faculty always challenged me, never accepting mediocrity. This gave me confidence in my writing and reporting capabilities as I entered the workforce after graduation.
While in college, I also had the privilege to work at UNH’s student newspaper, The New Hampshire, while simultaneously taking classes. The paper gives journalism students not only the opportunity to publish their work, but a chance to interact and receive mentoring from upperclassmen with more experience.
Since graduation, I have worked as an Internet news manager and freelance sports reporter for a major New York newspaper as well as an education reporter for a small daily newspaper. Now I report on national defense in Washington, D.C. The UNH journalism program gave me the confidence to ask any question to anyone, be it an average Joe on the street or a congressman on Capitol Hill.
Marcus Weisgerber ’04 is managing editor of Inside the Air Force in Arlington, Va.
Steve Bodnar, '08
Steve Bodnar ’08 did his internship as a full-time reporter at The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H. Here’s what he says about the experience:
Three hours into my internship, my editor asked me to contact all the school superintendents in the paper’s coverage area for a story about school closings. I thought the task was a little demanding for my first day, but after I started making calls and getting some good quotes, I realized that calling the superintendents wasn’t a task; it was an opportunity.
One of the best things I did before my internship was forget any notion that there were certain types of stories I didn’t want to cover. While I still had my reservations, I forced myself to take every story with an open mind. For example, I’m not a political junkie, so I didn’t have a lot of background on the presidential hopefuls running in the New Hampshire primary. But I covered three candidates: John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Chris Dodd. It’s been ingrained in us during journalism classes at UNH to do the research, so that’s exactly what I did. I wasn’t going to let the chance to cover these politicians slip through my grasp by making excuses or yielding to my comfort zone.
I looked for interesting angles. No one wants to read how a presidential hopeful went through his or her planned speech before a crowd of people time and time again. People want to know if the candidate said something remarkable or arrived in a snowplow in the middle of a blizzard. Doing my research helped to subdue any anxieties about doing a political story, and keeping an open mind help me to realize that political stories can make great reading.
The reporting internship is a testing ground -- one that comes with a fair amount of forgiveness. Instead of looking at an assignment as a task or as “just another story,” look at each as an opportunity. For the next story, maybe you’ll write a better lead; maybe you’ll get some great quotes; maybe someone will call you or email you telling you what a great job you did.
I will never forget a letter to the editor regarding a story I wrote about a girl who dedicated her life to community service. The man who wrote the letter said the story made him cry and that it prompted him to donate money to a cancer research foundation. It’s moments like those in the internship – and yes, you will get praise – that turn tasks into opportunities.
Steve Bodnar '08.