Students enrolled in an advanced University journalism class are getting their share of reporting for the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Students rub shoulders with the news hounds
By Amanda Rider
From eNews, June 10, 2004
Deadlines, bylines, covering a beat.... To most journalism students, these terms are the meat and potatoes of a future career. For students in the University of Minnesota's Advanced Reporting Techniques class, experiencing these terms are key to graduating. Unlike run-of-the-mill internships, this five-year-old course combines a structured curriculum and classroom time with hands-on experience at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Students attend class-featuring lectures and discussions with guest editors-once a week at the newspaper's offices, and then apply what they learn during the 14 hours they commit to a particular Pioneer Press coverage team. "Students start working right off the bat," says course instructor Gayle Golden, a lecturer with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. "They spend time shadowing editors, watching interviews, and writing smaller [pieces]." Their jobs may also include researching stories, producing news bits, and assisting staff writers with feature articles. "It's competitive enough getting an internship," says Bao Ong, a student who had two bylines within the first month of the fall 2003 course. "This class makes it easier to get in the door and write for a respected paper." Ong now contributes to "Turning Point," a weekly column in the Pioneer Press, and recently interviewed a local model for a feature story. He says the experiences are an essential step in his quest to become a fashion writer. Pioneer Press staff reporter Tammy Oseid got her break with the newspaper after completing her advanced reporting course in fall 1999. An editor called Oseid to ask if she would fill in during winter break after a group of reporters left the newspaper. "I said yes, and then worked out a deal where I could work part-time when I wasn't in class during the spring semester," she says. "I was assigned a beat. It was a lot of work, especially with having early-morning classes and late-night city council meetings, but it was a great experience." Oseid was subsequently hired full-time. "I don't think I would have been hired if I hadn't been working for the paper and knew the people," she says. "The class is what opened the door for me." So how do newspaper editors take to the fresh and eager faces they meet each fall? "I think about the people who made a difference in my life [and] it was the little things that [did it]," says Holly Heyser, Pioneer Press state government editor. "The possibility to do the same for these students is wonderful."