Olympia Legislative Reporting Interns Thrive in State Capital

2019 cohort of Olympia Legislative Reporting Program interns

The Olympia Legislative Reporting Program immerses Communication students in paid, full-time reporting jobs each winter quarter with news outlets covering the Washington State Legislature. Seven of the Department’s most civically-minded students were selected for this opportunity in the 2019 winter quarter. These aspiring communicators learned how to unpack complex governmental policy, research high-profile issues, write quality articles on very tight deadlines, and build a network of reliable sources, among other core journalism skills.

When asked about their most valuable takeaways, here is what some of the students had to say about the experience:

“This internship has given me a great sense of what being a full-time reporter is like. I’ve learned how to build a network of contacts, turn over multiple pieces a week (and oftentimes multiple pieces a day), and have a much better understanding of the political system than I ever did before. These are experiences that I can transfer to any journalism job that I get in the future… I have a more solid understanding of the workload of a professional journalist and why it’s important in a political sphere.”
Emma Scher, Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Olympia Bureau (WNPA)

2018 cohort of Olympia Legislative Reporting Program interns

“One thing I am proud of is how, through the course of this internship, I was able to learn policy at a deeper level than I anticipated. There were a number of complex policies I had to write about, which required me to understand the underlying policy implications well in order to put the effects in simpler terms for the readers. Learning how to write about each was a process of research and self-teaching.”
Devon McBride, The Daily

“From a broad perspective, my greatest achievement was filing 37 stories over the duration of the quarter. I definitely honed in on my ability to hit hard deadlines quickly and with ease. My favorite story was about the lawsuits from the gun control initiative. It was very difficult to analyze and understand the two lawsuits and even harder to put them into my own words. Sandy Stokes [a WNPA editor] really pushed me to go out with a bang and work outside my comfort zone. As a result, I learned how to handle angry lawyers and navigate confusing language.”
Madeline (Maddie) Coats, Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Olympia Bureau (WNPA)

“My greatest achievement was a story I did about a bill that would make it easier for some people to clear their criminal record in Washington. The reporting process lasted close to a month, and the final product included a two-part feature: a photo essay from another intern, Shauna Sowersby, and an in-depth web post with everything I learned while covering the issue, including insights from one woman whose criminal record prevents her from volunteering at her autistic son’s school. I used a lot of what I learned in Erika Schultz’s photojournalism class for the two-part feature.”
Max Wasserman, Northwest News Network

For more information about 2020’s internship program, please attend one of the upcoming information sessions:

Wednesday, October 2, 3:30-4:30 p.m. in CMU 302

Thursday, October 3, 12:30-1:30 p.m. in CMU 322

And don’t forget, the deadline to apply for the Winter 2020 Olympia Legislative Reporting Program is Monday, October 7, 2019.

Please contact Olympia Program Director Meg Spratt, mspratt@uw.edu, or Journalism Program Coordinator Andrea Otanez, aotanez@uw.edu, with any questions.