2010-01-29 / Community

New York Press Association Seeks Interns For Local Papers

By Christopher Moore Special to The Wave

Talk about a win-win proposition.

The New York Press Association’s summer internship program offers students a chance to get real-life newsroom experience. The newspapers, in turn, net inexpensive access to talented and enthusiastic staffers during the summer months.

Some successful interns from last year’s class say they absolutely got as much — and sometimes more — than they bargained for.

“I learned more about how the newsroom works,” says photographer Stefanie Campolo, 22, an Atlantic City, N.J. resident who is a senior at Syracuse University. She interned at New York City’s Riverdale Press, where she was surprised at the suburban nature of that corner of the city. “I guess I didn’t know that there would be so many winding, confusing roads in Riverdale,” she says.

Still, she must have found her way around — because she speaks knowingly now about both the geography and what she learned during her summer stint. For instance, she learned to like the weekly home section feature. “I had never shot architecture stuff before,” she says. Having an editor give her almost instant feedback meant a lot, and “definitely improved my vision.”

Other students will get their chance soon to be part of the program, which provides 12 paid eight-week summer internships for college journalism students. The net stipend is $2,500, with the press association paying the withholding costs — a boon to the papers in the program. This year, students have until March 1 to get their applications into community newspapers throughout the state. Would-be participants are encouraged to pick a publication that is within a reasonable travel distance to where they plan to live during the summer.

Arthur Kern, who worked last summer as an intern at The Smithtown News, found that his internship work “definitely helped my communication skills.” Kern, 20, is a sophomore studying history and anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia. Last summer, though, he learned a different kind of a lesson: just how deeply a newspaper can resonate in a community. Visiting a local high school to report a story, he found both students and teachers were excited by coverage. Back at the newspaper, writing up his stories, he grew as a writer.

“My news writing changed dramatically because I was getting a lot of help,” he says, “especially from the sports editor.” Kern had felt himself completely unprepared to write about golf, but he tackled the topic pretty quickly with help from the sports editor in question, Jason Karpf. Karpf taught Kern about trying to make stories tighter and starting stories with sentences that grab readers. But Karpf says Kern brought a great deal of talent to the tasks at hand. “Artie came in with a lot of good skills right off the bat, to be honest,” Karpf says.

Another skilled young journalist: Shawn Arrajj, 21, who spent eight weeks at the Brighton-Pittsford Post in Rochester. He started reading the paper as soon as he was accepted to be an intern there. “I was impressed,” he says. “I actually like their web site a lot. I think they do a good job with the multimedia aspect.”

He also likes the internship program exactly as it is set up. “I got a lot of experience in how the paper interacts with the town,” Arrajj says. He learned those lessons firsthand, writing local news pieces and even handling the police blotter for the publication. “They were all familiar with the paper and bought it for one reason or another,” Arrajj says, “whether they wanted to read the sports or the local news.”

“I’m optimistic,” Arrajj says, “that I’ll be able to get something in the field that I want.”

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