By Chloe Dong
As a college student, you keep asking yourself, “How can I apply what I have learned to the real world?” Students working with the News Outlet internship program get a chance to answer this question through a unique professional experience.
According to its website, “the News Outlet is a collaboration between three public universities in Northeastern Ohio and professional media partners.” The three universities include Youngstown State University, Kent State University and the University of Akron. The News Outlet was founded and operates at Youngstown State University and “seeks to give students valuable experience reporting and producing investigative and enterprise stories, producing valuable content and providing audiences with critical information they need in order to be informed and engaged through legacy media.”
The News Outlet project began in Fall 2009 and “is in the end of its third year that we have worked with the News Outlet,” said Barb Hipsman, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State. Interns from the three universities produce stories for “regional and statewide media partners, including WYSU-FM Radio, The Vindicator (Youngstown), the Akron Beacon Journal and Rubber City Radio (Akron),” she said.
Kelsey Misbrener, a senior news major with a concentration in magazine, has been working with the News Outlet since last summer.
”This is a really great experience,” Misbrener said. “It definitely makes me a better writer.”
Now, she is working on a story about fracking and other energy suppliers. Together with her colleagues, she has a couple of trips planned for interviews. She is talking to farmers and other people involved with fracking. She may also go to New York in February to see how people are dealing with the issue there and how fracking affects them.
Being a journalist means spending a lot of time doing interviews and collecting sources. By now, Misbrener has already finished five substantial stories, which required a lot of reporting and a plethora of sources.
“I am really into politics, though, I know it’s a hard field to tackle. Every day, I have to stay on top of what is happening” Misbrener said. “My dream job is to be a magazine journalist. I really want to impress the people and editors that I am writing for. I just want to write the best story.”
Alexander Atkinson, a senior news major with a concentration in newspaper, also had his internship with the News Outlet. He wants to be a sports reporter.
“I find almost everything but sports is negative in the news. I like covering sports because I find it an escape from the more important, often negative, coverage in the news,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson started working with the News Outlet two weeks before the fall semester started.
“Professor Hipsman sent out an email about a paid internship opportunity with the News Outlet. You don’t find many paid internships,” Atkinson said. “Kelsey and I had a short phone interview with Alyssa Lenhoff, the co-director and journalism director at the News Outlet, before traveling to the News Outlet office in Youngstown the next day to meet the whole staff as well as be introduced to our first reporting project.”
However, working with the News Outlet is not as easy as people thought it would be. It requires students to work on tight deadlines and in a fast-paced environment.
“It is different and a little bit difficult,” Atkinson said. “Being that our editors were based in Youngstown, Kelsey and I only saw our editors once a week in a meeting at the Beacon Journal. We worked entirely away from the actual Youngstown office. It was a little challenging at times knowing exactly what our editors wanted us to do. So, we would be out gathering our story, have an unexpected twist and then communicate and seek guidance via email instead of sitting down in meetings.”
In the News Outlet, students from three universities work together and learn from each other, however, there is a little competition among them. During their interaction and cooperation at the News Outlet, students with different backgrounds combine their experience in order to further their professional knowledge in the real world. It is a good way to learn more about journalism and gain experience as well, Hipsman said.
“Compared with students from other universities, our students have much more reporting experience, because we have all the student media outlets at Kent State,” she said.