Five Lessons I Learned by Applying for a Summer Internship

Journalism summer internships aren’t very difficult to come by if you don’t know what you’re looking for.  But if you’re lucky like me and have mentors left and right, it’s a really stressful process. Everyone wants to help but ends up pointing you in a different direction. This past Thursday I applied for an internship I had stumbled upon a week before.  Here are five things I thought every journalism student should consider if they ever find themselves in my shoes.

Start early. The whole “I do my best work under pressure” b.s. is just that. Bullshit. If you really want an internship, start looking in the summer and continue to do so during the semester. Make an Excel spreadsheet (lots of internships want people who can use it!) to keep track of what you’ve already applied for and what you’ll get in return (school credit or cash?).  Have your resume and clips ready. If you don’t know how to write a cover letter (like me), ask for help. If you don’t have clips, write good stuff and get it published. Pick up the phone and call the internship coordinators or the human resources departments if the information isn’t already online.  Sometimes they’ll hang up on you, sometimes they’ll be rude but if you want to be a journalist, you’re going to have to get used to it.

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Stony Brook will host NYS RISE storm research hub

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Stony Brook University will be home to the NYS RISE, which will analyze previous weather events to prepare for future ones. (MIKE PEDERSEN / THE STATESMAN)

Stony Brook University will serve as one of two home bases for the New York State Resilience Institute for Storms & Emergencies (NYS RISE), Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Friday, Nov. 1.

At his Conference on Emergency Preparedness in Albany, Cuomo revealed that the new facility will be a research hub for analysts, government officials and emergency first responders to analyze previous storms and collaborate on ideas to improve the way the state will address future extreme weather events.

“Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee taught us many lessons from the last three years,” Cuomo said in a press release. “But the biggest lesson of all was that we have much more to learn about today’s changing and unpredictable climate.

“We are gathering top academic leaders, policy makers, emergency experts and first responders from across the nation to develop strategies to meet one simple goal—and that is to better protect New York’s communities in natural disasters,” he continued.

However, according to the Associate Dean of Stony Brook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, R. Lawrence Swanson, who will be co-directing the institute with SOMAS Dean Minghua Zhang, the project started soon after Superstorm Sandy, last February.

When the researchers at Stony Brook were ineligible to receive federal government funding for their work, they turned to the state for aid.

“Some of our contacts [suggested] we apply directly to the state because FEMA was not only giving money for restoration of homes and property but a certain proportion of that money was to go to research,” Swanson said.

But Stony Brook was not alone in their efforts. Along with SBU’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, the Resilience Institute will also be housed at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in Brooklyn, where Construction Engineering and Management Professor Fletcher H. (Bud) Griffis will head the institute on his end.

“I guess in somewhat of a parallel move, New York University also was doing similar things,” Swanson said. “It became apparent within the state that the two of us were embarking on independent paths and suggested that we merge efforts and put together a single proposal, which we did.”

Swanson said the program will mostly be internalized and will not bring in experts from around the nation. But, the university will mostly work alongside Brookhaven National Laboratory.

“Brookhaven is going to be leading the effort for the Stony Brook portion of the program,” Swanson said in a phone interview.  “And looking at some of the energy issues that arose during the storm and how to improve those.”

Some researchers will also allow students to participate in their work for NYS RISE. Swanson said SOMAS will be using both its graduate and PhD students, and some faculty members want to use their undergraduate students to work on their projects.

“Some of [the work] will be done in the field, other parts of it will be totally within the confines of the University here itself,” he said. “A lot of it will be getting information from local communities in order for us to better understand what they went through [and] trying to improve the situation for the next time.”

This article was originally published in the Nov.20, 2013 issue of The Statesman.

“The Atlantic” writer aims to shame indie rock band

Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor” album promotion image (Photo credit: Arcade Fire / JF Lalonde)

The beautiful thing about soccer bloggers is that they have to understand not just the sport, but the country in which it is being played.  With that comes a deeper understanding of culture and racism, among other things.

So as I was perusing Twitter tonight, I found that a few of my favorite writers were outraged about an article about the band, Arcade Fire, on The Atlantic‘s website.

And when I read it, so was I.

(I am begrudgingly linking the audience to this story here. )

Hayden Higgins, the author of the story titled “Arcade Fire Exploited Haiti, and Almost No One Noticed,” made several statements in his piece claiming that the band used Caribbean-sounding music and Haitian costumes to get people to buy their new album, “Reflektor.” He also said that even though their intentions were sincere, there music has perpetuated stereotypes.

What? What?

First of all, there are ZERO examples  that the music has caused people to view Haiti solely in the way that the band has “portrayed” the island nation. Not one quote from a listener, a fan, an ignorant American, no one. When you’re going to make such a bold statement about a band like that, you better be able to back it up.

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On college journalism critics

Several students at my school have a problem with the way our student-run newspaper, The Statesman, and I reported on a recent car accident on campus involving one of our staff photographers. We received a letter to the editor that said my work was “offensive.”  Someone on Facebook said “we had no problem throwing one of our own under the bus.”

So I’d like to tell my side of this story. Continue reading →

“Toronto Star” cashes in for exclusive video of mayor

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. (Photo credit:

On Thursday, Toronto’s daily newspaper, The Toronto Star, published a new, never-before-seen video of the city’s mayor in an inebriated state.

According to PoynterThe Star paid a source $5,000 for the video.  The source claimed to have filmed it from another person’s computer. The videos shows Mayor Rob Ford, in a visibly intoxicated state, pacing around a room and yelling, threatening to commit “first degree murder.”  The story adds a new facet to Ford’s history of substance use nearly six months after Gawker started a $200,000 “Crackstarter” (don’t bother holding your laughter, I didn’t) to buy and publish a different video of the mayor supposedly smoking crack cocaine.

The Toronto newspaper originally refused to disclose the video’s price  when it initially posted the story to its website just after noon.  Poynter spoke to one of  the reporters who wrote the story, Kevin Donovan, who said “we are not disclosing the amount but it is not a lot.”

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