To the News (Max)
Written by Breana Noble
I’d been searching for an internship since October. The temporary advisor to the Collegian had encouraged me to find a journalism internship for the summer. However, I struggled to find ones for which I was eligible, since I was only a freshman at the time.
At the end of February, I traveled with the Hillsdale’s Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter to Washington, D.C. for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. While I had hoped the conference would provide an educational experience and an opportune time as a student journalist – while there, I got to interview former senator Allen West – it also provided an even greater opportunity.
As my friends and I wandered through a maze of tables representing various political organizations, a shiny blue pamphlet caught my eye: “Journalism Internships.” I found myself looking at the booklet and chatting with a white-haired gentleman, who I later learned was Kirby Wilbur, Director of the National Journalism Center (NJC), about the internship opportunities this organization provided to college students. The NJC places its interns in media outlets throughout the Washington, D.C. area for three months, as well as providing them with weekly classes to hone their journalism skills.
“The application is actually due tomorrow,” he told me.
The over 10-hour bus ride back to campus felt like eons as I eagerly awaited the chance to submit my résumé and entry form. After a phone interview and a follow-up, I learned that I had been accepted to their summer program. The NJC placed me with Newsmax Media, a news aggregation website and prime-time cable television station.
Flash forward to May, my first day of the internship. My editors lived in New York and Oregon, only two Newsmax employees actually worked in the D.C. office, along with five NJC interns.
I wrote for two sections of Newsmax.com: “The Wire,” which is trending news, and “Fast Features,” which contains heavily researched pieces. As interns, we were assigned to create aggregated stories in approximately 45 minutes, pulling our information and quotes from other news outlets and websites.
Upon hearing my assigned duties, I felt slightly disappointed. The journalism I had experienced in my high school and college career involved going to places and speaking with people to develop originally reported stories. Nonetheless, I wasn’t going to squander my once-in-a-lifetime summer in D.C., so I plunged in full throttle.
The more articles I wrote, the faster I became at writing them. My assignments exposed me to types of stories in which I did not have much experience: breaking news, obituaries, list stories, and pieces covering foreign affairs and policy. It gave me an understanding of where to find popular topics, how to write them, and the most effective means of doing research.
Within the first two weeks, my production rate of quality articles overloaded the editors, so my boss gave me the opportunity to edit stories as well, even ones produced by actual Newsmax writers. This incredible privilege helped to prepare me for my assistant editorship position at the Collegian this school year.
On the days I had classes with the NJC, I made connections with other young reporters, shot a gun for the first time (we visited the National Rifle Association’s headquarters to learn how to cover gun-related issues and topics), saw the House of Representatives’ press galleries, and observed the announcement of a landmark Supreme Court decision. Additionally, I heard professional advice from journalists at The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Red Alert Politics, National Review, The Daily Caller, the Daily Mail, Vox Media, Buzzfeed, and others.
My internship culminated in the final week and a half when I had the opportunity to stretch my legs in the city of Washington, D.C. I wrote nine stories during that time period: highlights included interviewing two Smithsonian Institution curators, speaking with the former executive director of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and breaking a story about a local diner owner selling his Donald Trump sandwich.
This summer I learned that, although at first glance a situation might not be what you were hoping for, when you keep up a good attitude and remain determined, the outcome just might surprise you for the good. I left D.C. with an offer from Newsmax to continue writing for them throughout the year. More importantly, I left with a better understanding of what it means to be a journalist, and with the determination to continuing pursuing this career.
Breana Noble, ’18, is a student from Michigan studying American studies and journalism. She is a member of the Dow Journalism Program; is an assistant news editor for Hillsdale’s school newspaper, the Collegian, and has interned at Newsmax Media in Washington, D.C. through the National Journalism Center.