Weekly Feature

2017-02-08 / Editorial

College internships worth their weight in gold

Managing Editor

As the second semester of college students’ academic year slowly begins to wind down and the days draw longer, one word surfaces over and over: internship.

The practical experience gained through an internship in one’s chosen career field cannot be found elsewhere. And even if the internship leaves a student cold and disappointed, it still will have served a valuable purpose.

In any form of journalism, there is a lot to be gained from just being a contributing factor inside the newsroom. The humor is often sarcastic and dry, but fellow writers, editors, photographers and producers are some of the most interesting people I have ever met.

It’s a shame we can’t go back in time to the newsroom of the Courier Express, Buffalo’s morning daily newspaper that folded in 1982. I visited there a couple of times as a wide-eyed reporter/photographer, and although it was cluttered and cramped, it was wonderful. I clearly remember that the photographers had made room in their corner for a cartoonist named Tom Toles, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1990.

It must be something in the air.

I have been in other newsrooms and can attest to the same feeling of excitement, although teletype machines no longer clatter in the distance.

Aspiring college journalists reach out at this time of year in hopes of securing both the experience and the academic credit of an internship. It’s a bit more complicated for local men and women enrolled in schools out of town, thus the need to set up an interview during spring break.

Most media outlets are not able to pay their interns, but the New York Press Association Foundation has stepped up to make the effort more rewarding.

The NYPA Foundation provides paid summer internships for college journalism students. Students must apply by March 1 of each year and be accepted into the eight-week program. Students are asked to apply directly to the local community newspaper they wish to intern with, and be interviewed and accepted by an NYPA member newspaper. Students who are accepted into the program will earn a net stipend of $2,500 for the internship.

Ironically, the Pew Research Center found that since 2004, there are 100 fewer daily newspapers, newsroom employment is on a steady decline from 2007 (it went from 52,600 employees to 32,900 employees) and newspaper circulation has declined for a second consecutive year.

Gallup just released a poll saying that American trust in the media is at an all-time low. Only 32 percent of Americans say they have “a great deal” of trust in the media. But in the same study, Pew also found that the most popular way of reading a newspaper among readers is still print only.

It must be something in the air.

Many of the interns I have welcomed to our newsroom became full-time employees here after graduation. Others found similar jobs out of town. Still others have never been heard from again.

They learn the basics of our writing style and take part in weekly staff meetings. More than once I have heard a breaking news report on the scanner and brought them along to cover it. They get to see things other young adults never see.

If you know an aspiring journalist, have him or her contact Rich Hotaling at NYPA at (518) 464-6483 or by email at rkhot@ny cap.rr.com.

It must be something in the air. (David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of more than 200,000 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.)

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