Ohio Journalist

Internship Listing

By Kate Hiller

(December 1, 2015) — The first Ohio University Statehouse News Bureau fellows worked at The Columbus Dispatch during fall quarter 2011. Since then, the program has offered students unparalleled experience as statehouse reporters.

Alex Stuckey, one of the first fellows, had been writing for the metro desk at the Dispatch over the summer when she was asked to stay for fall quarter to test the new program.

“Covering the statehouse and the legislature is much different than covering anything else,” she said. Stuckey now covers the Missouri statehouse for the St. Louis Post- Dispatch and was named one of the nation’s top political reporters at the Washington Post.

Pat Holmes, former editor-in-chief of the Post, worked at the Dispatch during winter quarter 2012.

“It wasn’t an internship, really,” he said. “We were reporters at the Dispatch while we were there. It was the most hands-on thing, and to be honest, I’m surprised I was allowed to do what I did.”

Holmes and fellow statehouse intern Deanna Pan, a student from Ohio State University, together investigated prescription opiate abuse in Ohio.

“Next thing we knew, we had four articles about the problem in Ohio explaining what went wrong and what was going to happen next,” Holmes said.

This grouping of stories brought an Ohio AP award to the two interns.

“It was an honor to get the Ohio AP award while students,” Holmes said.

Working in a professional newsroom with reporters who have been covering statehouse news for years, or even decades, is one of the perks of participating in the Statehouse News Bureau, Dispatch Managing Editor Alan Miller said.

“The team of reporters and editors here who cover politics and government are second to none in Ohio,” he said. “The students who work with them in this program learn from the best in this business.”

The Dispatch newsroom is full of people who can answer questions and help student reporters with multimedia, ethics and more.

“You have the benefit of this big newsroom full of people who cover all sorts of things and can also be terrific mentors in such areas of doing video to go with your stories, podcasts, filing to the Web – everything you need to know as a student journalist who will soon be someone doing journalism for a living,” Miller said.

Senior Kelly Gifford spent a semester working at the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s bureau with three full-time reporters during spring quarter 2012.

“I was on the front page of the Plain Dealer my second week there,” she said. “When you’re at the statehouse internship, you’re covering legit news.”

Reporting on subjects like this is going to affect people and effect change, Gifford added.

In addition to affecting other people, Gifford said her experience influenced her personally.

“I got firsthand experience learning to write news that matters,” she said. “You’re seriously thrown in with the wolves. Journalism isn’t learned from watching other people – it’s learned from personal experience.”

Since an editor wasn’t present, Gifford said she had some freedom to dictate the coverage.

“It’s one of those things that you can’t pass up,” she said. “Grab with both hands, hold on tight, and just go.”

Another fellow who had freedom to dictate his coverage was 2013 Scripps graduate Michael Locklear, who worked with Ohio Public Radio and TV during fall semester 2012.

“Most of my work actually aired in Athens at WOUB, not [in Columbus],” he said. “They helped mentor me and guide me, but I decided what I would cover and how I would do it.”

In addition to providing content for WOUB in Athens, Locklear said some of his stories ended up on Karen Kasler’s statewide public broadcast program, “The State of Ohio.”

A lot of planning goes into launching a news bureau like this, but Miller of the Dispatch said the first “fellows” were at work less than six months after initial discussions began with Robert Stewart, director of the Scripps School of Journalism, and Sue Porter, vice president of programs for the Scripps Howard Foundation, which has provided some funding for the fellowship.

“For an academic endeavor, it was a land speed record,” Miller said. “That’s a credit to everyone involved, that we were able to get it started that fast.”

Porter attributes the quick turnaround to the need everyone saw to address the dearth of statehouse coverage. “In response to the economic downturn and communications evolution, many of the state’s media outlets had shuttered their capital bureaus,” she said. “Something needed to be done to get more journalists into the statehouse and this seemed like a win-win way to do it.”

Getting this internship off the ground was important for Assistant Professor Tom Suddes, who is also a columnist on Ohio politics for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Covering state government is really important because state governments are getting more and more responsibility,” he said. “Nationally, there is evidence that coverage of state governments has declined. We have an ideal setting for helping people learn how to cover it.”

The result? A connection between the journalism school, a journalism funder and media organizations in Columbus, and high-quality clips and experience for future statehouse reporters.

“We have a great track record with what students have been able to produce,” said Stewart. “And none of this would have been possible without the support of the Scripps Howard Foundation, which has provided some of the scholarship funds to students; Columbus-based media outlets willing to provide placements for the students; and newspapers, broadcast stations and websites across the state that are eager to use the students’ coverage.”

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