Down payment on tomorrow's news

Author: Tim Dougherty ’07

In response to a declining journalism job market, the University’s Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy is taking a new approach to help Notre Dame students nab coveted summer reporting internships: Buy them.

Last fall the Gallivan program reached agreements with The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor and the Los Angeles Times to take on Notre Dame summer interns. The program’s endowment will fund the salaries of the news interns at the Inquirer and the Monitor, while the Times sports reporting internship will be funded by a private donor.

The agreements with the Inquirer and the Monitor are similar to an internship the Gallivan program has supported at the South Bend Tribune since 2003.

“Given the financial situation in American journalism today, you see a number of cutbacks, and in particular we see it in the number of paid internships that are available to students,” says Gallivan director Robert Schmuhl ’70, who holds the Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce chair in American studies and journalism.

The Inquirer is a case in point. Becky Klock once directed a staff of eight paid reporting interns at the newspaper each summer. Last year the Inquirer eliminated all but one summer intern, whose salary was paid by a third party. Though Klock says she received 150 applications from students eager to work for free, the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia requires that any intern not receiving school credit be paid no less than $707 a week. That price tag was too high, considering the new owners of the Inquirer laid off 71 employees in January.

“If the news organizations make it more difficult for young people to get involved at an early stage, my fear is that down the road our journalism won’t be as professional as it might be,” Schmuhl says. “I see what we’re doing as not only an investment in a specific number of students but also an investment in the future of American journalism.”

Klock learned about Notre Dame’s plans from Inquirer metro columnist Monica Yant Kinney ’93, a member of the Gallivan advisory committee. “It seemed like a wonderful opportunity for them and for us,” Klock says.

Katie Stuhldreher ’07 is serving as the paper’s first Notre Dame-supported reporting intern this summer. Stanford University and Drexel University in Philadelphia also have funded internships at the Inquirer this summer.

Klock sees a possible revival of the newspaper’s full internship program. “We are hoping what we can do now is create a close relationship with our local colleges and universities,” she says. “This is the way it’s going to be done in the future, I’m convinced. It will be much more collaborative between newspapers and universities. The funding from colleges will make it possible to bring young people into this craft.”

The newspapers retain full discretion in choosing their interns from a pool of applicants forwarded by Notre Dame. This summer, senior Maddie Hanna, editor-in-chief of The Observer, is working at the Concord Monitor, while Observer managing editor Ken Fowler, another senior, is the first sports intern at the L.A. Times with the financial support of the family of Harry Ornest.

Ornest, who died in 1998, was a former NHL referee who owned several sports franchises, including the NHL’s Saint Louis Blues. His daughter, Laura, a Los Angeles radio news reporter, wanted to honor her father by creating a sports internship at the Times.

“Harry was a guy who loved sportswriters,” says former L.A. Times sports editor and Gallivan advisory committee member Bill Dwyre ’66. “He loved to tip us stories and be interviewed.”

Dwyre says his suggestions of potential recipients included Notre Dame, Columbia and UCLA. Though Laura Ornest made a donation to the Columbia journalism school, she chose Notre Dame for the scholarship, which includes a summer salary and an additional stipend during the school year.

Schmuhl views real-world work experience as essential for students. When the journalism minor was created in 1997, it emphasized internships. Some years later, a news internship became a requirement. Schmuhl says a plan to expand guaranteed summer opportunities for its students is in the works.

The funded summer internship with the South Bend Tribune was established as a memorial to Jack Powers ’52, a long-time Tribune editor who was an adjunct professor in the Gallivan program.