Interns cover Legislature for regional media
Eight University of Washington students are working as full-time reporters during the 2010 Washington State Legislative Session. The annual internship program partners qualified students with media outlets around the region during winter quarter.
Chantal Anderson, a senior majoring in journalism and international studies, is working for Northwest News Network Public Radio. This is actually Anderson’s second year in Olympia. Last year, she covered the session for The Seattle Times.
She is excited to learn how to produce professional radio news pieces and features. She hopes to “master the art of audio production” while producing several three- to five-minute radio features.
Already during her internship, Anderson has learned techniques in interviewing for radio, the importance of picking up ambient sound, and how to write for the ear.
She is looking forward to providing interesting and important coverage of the session.
Sepideh Behzadpour is working for the University of Washington Daily.
She is a senior majoring in communication with a focus on journalism. This is her first experience working as a reporter.
So far, she has learned that the easiest way to conduct an interview is to walk up to someone and start asking questions, rather than waiting for a call/e-mail/reply or scheduled appointment. She writes, “If I’m pressed for time and need a quote from a source, I’ll hand them a piece of paper and have them write down their statement rather than record it. Then I’ll read the quote back to them, to make sure I can read their handwriting.”
Andrew Doughman, Skagit Valley Herald
Andrew Doughman is a senior journalism student working in Olympia for the Skagit Valley Herald. He has written and edited The Daily and has written for The Ballard News Tribune and The West Seattle Herald.
“I’m here in Olympia mainly to work a full-time journalism job, but also to appreciate monumental architecture and hang out with the office cat, Bob. So far, I’ve learned that journalism is tough work, the dome is pretty big and Bob scratches unless you pet him — then his claws retract.”
Doughman has learned that Olympia has its own culture of language and acronyms. He wrote, “Budgets are not reduced; they are ‘cut.’ The governor does not revise a budget. Rather, she wields a fearsome ‘budget ax’ with which she takes programs and expenditures and ‘slashes’ them upon her ‘budget chopping block.’ Legislators here never gather or convene; they ‘caucus.’ And their PR folk are called ‘Public Information Officers.’ Or PIOs for short. This is the land of the acronym: WSDOT, OSPI, CTED, DSHS, SAO and so on.
Doughman finds the daily deadlines of the internship to be valuable reporting practice. He wrote, “Politicians might twist and dodge, but they’ve helped me with interviewing. Either you catch them with a question and hold them to an answer or you walk away with nothing.”
He said the rigors of working with professional reporters and a veteran editor have kept him accountable to high standards: “Turn stories in on deadline, pare down the prose and get it right.”
He added, “No journalism course at the UW beats this.”
Brionna Friedrich, Lewiston Tribune
Brionna Friedrich is a senior journalism student interning with The Lewiston Tribune.
“Yes, that’s Lewiston, Idaho,” she wrote. “You’d be amazed how often that surprises people here at the Washington Legislature, but my paper has a large circulation in eastern Washington so it’s important for them to have someone covering state issues.”
Friedrich said her political reporting skills have improved during the internship, and she is learning how to mesh her writing with a newspaper’s style and focus her stories on interests of a specific readership. She wrote, “I’ve gotten plenty of practice with AP Style (I have my guide handy at all times), working under deadlines, hunting down stories, and tracking down sources. At first, it was a bit tricky getting comments from busy senators, but I’ve learned which people to call to put me in touch. For the really tough ones, I sometimes need to get a bit aggressive and lurk outside their committee meetings.”
Friedrich came to Olympia with some familiarity of the legislative process and the Capitol campus through her time in the YMCA’s Youth Legislature program during high school, which facilitates a mock session every year for students at the Capitol. “I can report with a certain insight into the process, and it saved me a lot of time starting out,” she wrote.
Maks Goldenshteyn, McClatchy Newspapers
To the internship, he brings reporting experience at The Seattle Times, the UW Daily, and a couple community papers.
“As a sports fan, I watch athletes make the leap from the college level to the pros every year. And when you think about it, the eight students working in Olympia this quarter as legislative reporting interns are making a kind of leap of our own. Lots of us have had previous reporting internships in college or have worked at The Daily, but for most of us, this is our first experience as full-time journalists.
“I’m most looking forward to polishing my reporting skills and hopefully one day not sounding like a complete moron when conducting phone interviews. It’s also great to be contributing to a newspaper that I’ve been reading online since I was 13 years old (long before the Sonics left town).”
Goldenshteyn said he has been writing about four stories per week, blogging, shooting video, and learning from veteran political writers.
Kaitlin Strohschein, Puget Sound Business Journal
Kaitlin Strohschein is working for the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Camden Swita is a senior studying journalism and honors English. He is working for Knowledge as Power.
He wrote that he is learning “how to operate without an office, much pay or organizational funding. That is the future of journalism.” Swita has also been getting experience hunting for stories.
His goal is to provide in-depth coverage of issues that mainstream media don’t have the time or desire to cover.
Lillian Tucker, The Seattle Times
Lillian Tucker is working for The Seattle Times.
She is a journalism major at the University of Washington, where she is on the Dean’s List. She was named the 2009 recipient of the Northwest Automotive Press Association Scholarship.
Tucker has previous journalism experience that prepared her for this internship.
Before coming to the UW, she studied journalism at Seattle University and wrote for the student newspaper, The Spectator. In January 2007 she took a two-year break from her studies and worked as sports editor, Twisp city reporter and photographer at the Methow Valley News. Her work there earned her first place for best photo essay, first place for best sports photo action and second place for best photo essay collaboration from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.
Tucker has also written for other Northwest publications, including The Skanner, Kirkland Reporter and Northwest Vietnamese News.