The COVID-19 pandemic and an upended economy could not disrupt a hallmark of the Newmark J-School: the required summer news internship.
This summer, 90 students from the Class of 2020 are working at more than 60 outlets, the vast majority supported by full or partial stipends as part of the school’s innovative response to difficult circumstances. Among the news organizations that have taken our interns are Associated Press (Paris), Cannabis Wire, Crain’s Detroit/New York, InsideClimate News, THE CITY, Los Angeles Times, Latino Rebels, Scientific American, Univision, Utah Public Radio, and WBFO.
Much of this success was tied to an ambitious initiative dubbed Newmark J-Corps, which was launched to fill coverage and engagement gaps for media outlets stretched thin by COVID-19 while also ensuring that our students gained important experiences in productive internships.
The program has allowed our students to report in text, audio, and visuals, as well as create interactives and work on social-engagement projects. They have made an impact from coast to coast and around the world, including:
- Jill R. Shah, recounting a comedian’s remote view of her mother’s last days (one of the most-read stories for the Los Angeles Times that day);
- Peter Senzamici covering under reported aspects of the NYPD protest response for THE CITY;
- Sevanny Campos documenting COVID-19’s impact on Hispanic communities for CT Latino News;
- Zinhle Ngema, working with both the New York and South African teams at OkayAfrica, writing and sharing music, art, politics, and culture articles;
- Jake Wasserman, the engagement fellow for the nonprofit Mountain State Spotlight in West Virginia, helping the new investigative newsroom better listen to its audience and community;
- Skanda Kadirgamar, a data reporting intern, assisting a documentary team research food and water scarcity at the Reveal, the radio show, and podcast from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
A J-Corps visuals desk — staffed by students Violetta Nespolo, Paul Stremple, and Leonardo March, and supervised by Photojournalism Director John Smock — has provided photos, videos, archival research, and interactives to outlets including The Haitian Times, The Forward, and Food Bank News.
This team also is working on visual templates and resource and style guides for clients to rely on after students return to school in the fall. Career Services launched our J-Corps partnership plan when news organizations large and small began reducing, postponing, and even eliminating internships as the pandemic worsened and the economy cratered.
The J-School had two things working in its favor: News organizations were excited to learn students could produce excellent journalism via remote means and had the equipment and other resources to sustain their work. Students and news organizations also both benefited by generous school support with this year’s living stipend for unpaid internships increasing to $4,000, from $3,000.