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 Tuesday, August 12, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Student Perspective: Journalism students gain real world experience at the DNC
by Joanna Nasar, Environmental Journalism, graduate student

The upcoming Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver is the perfect opportunity for journalism students to get involved with both local and national news outlets as volunteers and interns. For many undergraduate and graduate journalism students it will be the first time they have reported on a national event – a very valuable experience.

“It's not likely that many journalism students will get the chance to help cover another convention, especially for a major national news organization,” said Internship Director Alan Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick let students know about the upcoming convention opportunities last spring, and the list of interested students was sent out to news organizations seeking assistance. Also, School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) students were told how to contact the convention host committee if they wished to volunteer during the event.

The reputation of the journalism school attracted mainstream media organizations. The school was contacted by ABC News, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, BBC, Politico/ and other national media, Kirkpatrick said. “I know all or nearly all have hired at least one student, and as many as a half dozen or more. Also, some local Denver/Front Range television and daily newspaper newsrooms have altered their summer and/or fall internship deadlines so that interns will be up to speed to assist with DNC coverage. That includes a number of graduate and undergrad interns from the SJMC,” he said.

Because the convention takes place during the first week of classes, journalism students with internships have made special arrangements with their professors, who recognize the importance of real world experience. “To my knowledge, those instructors have been very cooperative and supportive of students who have DNC-related positions with local and national news organizations,” Kirkpatrick said. Professors recognize the mission of the journalism school is broader than the classroom and extends to reporting on historic events happening right now. “This convention is shaping up to be one of the most interesting political events in recent history,” said Kirkpatrick.

The convention is historic for more than the tight race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: it is also historic to Denver because the last convention was held here 100 years ago. For journalism students interning and working to get their byline and sound bites in the national and local media, it is a professional milestone that will always be connected to their time at CU-Boulder.

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