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For the first time in 53 years, top college journalism students from across the country are participating in a week of virtual training at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as part of a digital journalism internship program through the Dow Jones News Fund.
Fifteen journalism students are spending May 16 to 22 “zooming” into the Cronkite School for rigorous multimedia training before doing virtual full-time paid internships in the summer and possibly the fall at such prestigious media outlets as the Wall Street Journal, The Arizona Republic, USA Today (Nashville), Austin American-Statesman, Poynter Institute, and New York PBS and Boston PBS stations, among others.
The Cronkite School is the only institution in the country serving as a DJNF-sponsored digital training center for college students. Approximately 115 students have participated since the school began hosting the program in 2013. Four other universities offer instruction in the areas of business reporting, data journalism and news editing.
The digital program includes sessions on social media analytics, audience engagement, basic computer coding, visual and audio editing, and podcast production. Students get instruction from prominent media professionals from USA Today, The Arizona Republic, NBC and NPR affiliates in Phoenix and from guest speakers from the Wall Street Journal and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It is led by Mike Wong, Cronkite’s career services director.
Amy Nakamura, a senior at Syracuse University, said that although she was originally disappointed that the program was forced to go virtual because of the coronavirus this year, she has found it an amazing experience.
“I thought I knew about audience engagement -- Twitter, Facebook and Instagram -- but I found that there are so many more tools that really help publications reach audiences online,” she said.
Nakamura said the Dow Jones News Fund program has connected her to industry professionals and to further training and internship opportunities. She plans to defer her internship with the Wall Street Journal to the fall, when she believes she may have a better chance to work in person in the WSJ newsroom.
“I just applied to the Dow Jones News Fund hoping to get any internship, but when Mike (Wong) told me the Wall Street Journal wanted to take me on, I was shocked,” she said. “I just think it’s amazing, and I don’t think I would have been able to get that internship without Dow Jones.”
Aiyana Ishmael, a senior at Florida A&M University, said she is impressed with the scope of digital learning at Cronkite and is excited to put it to use. She said that she is getting plenty of one-on-one time with her instructors.
“Even though we are not physically in the room with them, we’re still getting the opportunity to ask questions and learn from them. We are all making the most of this,” she said.
Ishmael said she started her virtual internship at MediaWise at the Poynter Institute in Florida two weeks ago and has already worked on a mini YouTube video debunking the “Plandemic.” Her first bylined story – also about the “Plandemic” – has already been published on Poynter’s website.
Wong said students have adapted well to this year’s virtual training and will emerge with new and improved digital skills for their summer internships and beyond.
“This is a historic time for the Dow Jones News Fund. Never in the 50-plus years of the Fund have internships been done remotely in their entirety,” Wong said. “The DJNF leadership made health and safety the No. 1 priority for students and employers this year. Linda Shockley, managing director of the Fund, and her team worked hard to find replacement internships for students whose internships were cancelled, and we all appreciate that.”
Wong said Cronkite is incredibly grateful to all employers who kept their commitments to students and to the new companies and organizations who stepped forward to offer new opportunities.
The DJNF’s Shockley said that despite the difficulties presented by the coronavirus, Cronkite and its digital media students have risen to the challenge.
“I’ve always appreciated our relationship with the Cronkite School,” Shockley said. “We’re inspired every year, but I’m particularly inspired by and encouraged about what’s being done this year. Hats off to Mike Wong, his team and the students, who are determined to press on and pursue their goals.”
Shockley said she also was impressed that the students are doing a team project this year – albeit remotely from their homes. Digital students will create a content-rich website on the effects of COVID-19 in K-12 schools across the nation.
Launched in 1960, the DJNF summer internship program supports five training sites at leading journalism schools. This year, 79 undergraduate and graduate students were selected from more than 700 applicants. After their internships, students returning to college receive $1,500 scholarships or $1,500 to repay student loans. Digital students such as those at Cronkite also will receive a membership in the Online News Association and subscriptions to online stylebooks.
The Dow Jones News Fund is a nonprofit organization supported by the Dow Jones Foundation, Dow Jones and Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal and other news industry organizations. Its mission is to encourage high school and college students to pursue journalism careers by sponsoring workshops and providing internships. It also offers ongoing training and grant-funded programs for educators.
The 2020 Dow Jones digital media interns and their assignments are:
Olivia Ali, University of Nevada, Reno; SPCA, Sacramento
Kendra Brown, New York University; Firelight Media
Ashleigh Garrison, Columbia University; Chalkbeat
Wessam Hazaymeh, Virginia Commonwealth University; International Center for Journalists
Aiyana Ishmael, Florida A & M University; Media Wise at Poynter Institute
Jessica Koernig, New York University; WNET (PBS)
Mariana Labbate, University of Missouri; Arizona Republic
Daniella Medina, University of Central Florida; USATODAY Network, Nashville
Lauren Mitchell, North Carolina A & T University; Austin American-Statesman
Amy Nakamura, Syracuse University; Wall Street Journal
Osmanee Offre, New York University; WGBH-TV (PBS)
Mariya Parkhomchuk, Arizona State University; National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Erika Peters, Stony Brook University; Arizona Republic
Omar Rashad, El Camino College; CALMatters
Kevin Sanchez, Georgia State University; (Placement to be determined)