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Editor column: Summer interns speak well for journalism's future

Published June 30, 2012 8:54 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The author and journalist Anna Quindlen once said that "being a reporter is as much a diagnosis as a job description."

I've heard this quote repeated more than once by colleagues lamenting the growing demands placed on us by rapid change and job losses in our industry.

Quindlen surely said these words tongue-in-cheek, but I love them for what I think they say about our profession. I frequently meet students who have caught the journalism bug, and now more than ever, I hope they never recover.

Our newsroom has five newly diagnosed reporters this summer. They are paid interns whose love of writing and interest in sports or current events led them to study journalism in college. Now on-the-job experiences at The Salt Lake Tribune and other news organizations serve to affirm — or not — their notion that reporting, despite its challenges, is an interesting, meaningful and important job. Once you get it in your system, it's often there for good.

Not everyone decides journalism is for them. That's partially what internships are for.

But these five interns make up the most dedicated — and most adept — group I've worked with to date.

Brennan Smith on just his fourth day here wrote a trend story about fundraising walks, runs and rides that earned its way onto The Tribune's front page.

With wildfires raging in central and southeastern Utah this past week, we sent Jack Wang for three days to Moroni to assist our reporting team. He scored the interviews that led Tuesday's story about the massive and destructive Wood Hollow Fire.

Each of the five interns has done front page-worthy work.

Allow me to introduce them:

Smith • A senior at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Smith was born in Morgan and grew up in Tucson. He aspires at least initially to be a general assignment reporter for a major market newspaper.

Wang • A resident of Temple City, Calif., Wang graduated this spring from University of California Berkeley and came to The Tribune through the Sports Journalism Institute, a nationwide training program in which we participate. His goal is to do more long-form journalism, in sports or otherwise. "Not much matches the satisfaction of turning days or weeks of reporting into carefully crafted stories," Wang says.

Justina McCandless • A Salt Lake City resident and recent Westminster College graduate, McCandless knows one thing: She wants to write. "What I write exactly is currently up for debate," she says. "I plan to pursue the fields of journalism, creative writing and technical writing."

Dana Ferguson • Ferguson, of St. Louis Park, Minn., is a junior at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., and came through her school's Barney Kilgore fellowship program. A fluent Spanish speaker, she aspires to one day be a correspondent in South America or Spain.

Michael Appelgate • Also a Kilgore fellow, Appelgate is a DePauw senior from Kent, Wash. His passion is sports journalism, which he hopes to practice in print media, ideally in the Pacific Northwest.

These interns' contributions this summer are valuable — to us and to them.

Smith says his internship is helping him gain broad experience that validates his desire to be part of the generation of journalists who facilitate the industry's transition from print to digital profitability.

"Rather than shy away from the challenges of this industry, I want to be part of the solution," he says.

As you can see, the prognosis is good.

Lisa Carricaburu is assistant managing editor. Reach her at lisac@sltrib.com or on Twitter: @lcarricaburu.