Summer Scholars 2017

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Allison Haeger, Morgan Smith, Taylor Trapp, Kendall Fields (all front row), Jack Paul, Collin Finn and Grace Ryan hit the streets with their reporters’ notebooks for “Media Matters: Journalism in Action.” — Photos by Patricia Gallagher Newberry 

When you study the news industry, you sometimes discover news is all around you.

That seemed to be the case during the 2017 “Media Matters: Journalism in Action” Summer Scholars program — with headlines popping up in every class meeting.

Washington did its part to fill students’ news feeds, with daily stories about possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections, health care legislation, Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer, and Attorney General Jeff Session’s job security. The state of Ohio provided news, too, with updates on the increasingly crowded gubernatorial campaign and the first execution on Ohio’s Death Row in three years. Local news popped up regularly, too — whether about the steamy weather in southwest Ohio or the arraignment of three suspects in an Oxford rape case.

“Media Matters” scholars, meanwhile, found a little news right on campus, as they interviewed administrators, faculty and students involved in the Summer Scholars programs. Open the links that follow to meet them — and read their reports:

  • Nicole DeLise will be a senior at Cathedral High School in Fishers, Ind., this fall.
  • Kendall Fields will be a junior at Twinsburg (Ohio) High School.
  • Collin Finn will enter his senior year at Portsmouth (Ohio) High School.
  • Allison Haeger is from Gahanna, Ohio, where she will be a senior at Lincoln High School.
  • Jack Paul will finish high school at J.K. Mullen High School in Littleton, a Denver suburb.
  • Grace Ryan will complete her high school education at Trinity High School in River Forest, Ill., a Chicago suburb.
  • Morgan Smith will be a senior at Discovery Canyon Campus High School in Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Taylor Trapp will enter her junior year at Lafayette Senior High School in Lexington, Ky.

Giant thanks, as always, to the “Media Matters” guests who shared their time and expertise with students:

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  • Richard Campbell, chair of the Department of Media, Journalism & Film, and Steve Beitzel, MJF’s chief engineer, provided a great introduction to MJF offerings, while Nate Floyd, King Library’s MJF specialist, offered an intro to King’s journalism resources.
  • Emily Williams, an intern at the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch this summer, told students that serving as editor of The Miami Student “consumes most of my life at Miami — in a good way.” Reviewing the Student’s recent coverage of a rape case and calling its stories about a January 2017 student death her hardest-to-date, Williams said: “I know so much more about the school that I wouldn’t have known. I’ve met so many people that I wouldn’t have met.”
  • 2017 Miami journalism graduate Tess Sohngen said she’s been able to marry her interest in social justice and work in journalism in her summer web-writing internship for Global Citizen, a New York-based non-profit that fights global poverty. “If I’m writing about it hopefully more people know about it — and can do something about it.” A good gig, too, because she’ll get to staff the annual Global Citizen Festival in Central Park this Sept. 23, with its big-name line-up about to be announced.
  • Austin Fast, a 2010 grad of Miami’s journalism program, sits in the middle of one of the most watched web experiments in the country — literally. As a web editor at WCPO.com, he’s at his desk at 4:30 a.m. to update the site of Cincinnati’s ABC affiliate, later turning his attention to WCPO.com’s “Insider” pages, where a team of 30 create long-form journalism behind a pay wall. He’s a jack of all trades — editing stories, adding digital images and video/audio elements, posting content to the web, and then promoting it all on social media. With those skills, he’s also able to produce rich packages for his own stories, ones he gets a shift a week to work on.
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    Miami grad Bethany Bruner, center front, has been out front on the May 2017 Kirkersville shooting story. 

    Bethany Bruner could hardly be more excited about her work as crime and courts reporter at the Newark (Ohio) Advocate. The 2012 Miami grad told students she felt like she was drowning when assigned to cover a murder case during her first week on the job. This spring and summer, she’s been a go-to journalist on a story from Kirkersville, Ohio, where a Utica, Ohio, man shot and killed a police officer, his one-time girlfriend and a colleague at a nursing home. Since the May 12 incident, Bruner and the Advocate have published more than three dozen stories about the shooting, and are “planning on doing a lot more,” Bruner said.

  • At HuffPost, 2013 grad JM Rieger has a fair amount of latitude to create video stories about President Trump as a video editor on the political team. His ironclad rule: they must be true — or “you’ll have blogs on you in an hour.” Rieger works from the premise that HuffPost readers know the political headlines of the day, so he must take stories a step further. “Everything needs to have a voice,” he said. “We’ll take an angle on stuff — but that doesn’t make it opinion.”
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    Cincinnati Enquirer police reporter Chris Graves, seated in center, says shoe-leather reporting — that is, getting out of the office and to the scene — helps her land interviews. 

    Chris Graves, police reporter at The Cincinnati Enquirer, learned about the murders of eight people in Pike County, Ohio, on the morning of April 22, 2016 — and has made reporting on them her highest priority almost every day since. Fresh from a reporting trip to Alaska — where she tracked down a Pike County family with a tie to the victims — she championed old-fashioned door-knocking in reporting. “I rarely call ahead,” she said of her interviewing approach. Landing sit-down interviews with key sources has been critical to her Pike County coverage, she said. An early chat with a parent of a victim “has paid dividends over and over and over again.”

  • Dan Sewell, correspondent in the Cincinnati office of the Associated Press, has traveled the world for the AP, with stints in Chicago, Atlanta, Miami and the Caribbean. When “Media Matters” visited his office, he recalled his time covering sports in Buffalo, N.Y., when he sometimes wrote about former football great O.J. Simpson. “Everyone liked him back then,” Sewell joked, just hours before Simpson learned he’ll be paroled this fall after nine years in prison on an armed robbery conviction.
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    Dan Sewell covers the big stories in Cincinnati, after around-the-globe assignments for the Associated Press. 

    With that story and every other before or since, Sewell has lived by the AP rule: “Get it first, but first get it right.”

  • As news director of WVXU-FM, one of Cincinnati’s National Public Radio affiliates, Maryanne Zeleznik has 8 1/2 full-time journalists available to cover the city. Among them are specialists on government and politics. With that more narrow focus, Jay Hanselman knows his way around Cincinnati’s city hall, with a recent scoop on how the city handles evidence in rape cases. Veteran reporter Howard Wilkinson, meanwhile, can rattle off all eight candidates in the fall 2018 race for Ohio government and a good number of the 30 or so locals vying for a city council seat this fall. The WVXU news team’s best advice for aspiring journalists: Bring batteries. You never know when your reporting equipment will run dry.
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    WKRC-TV news staffers start their day with a review of possible stories for their many newscasts. 

    With 9 1/2 hours of news programming to fill every weekday, Mike Horsley has a big job as news operations manager at WKRC-TV. That requires constant planning on what stories to add and detract from the script of any given newscast, Horsley explained from a conference room with a giant white board and four TV screens airing his station and its competition. “Some people don’t last 33 years,” Horsley said of his own tenure at WKRC. He encouraged students to chase internships. “When we have jobs open, that’s who we look at first.”

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    Rob Daumeyer, center with tie, wants more young journalists to consider business news. Joey Hart, also center, is following that advice as a summer intern for Cincinnati Business Courier.

    Not surprisingly, Rob Daumeyer, Miami grad and Cincinnati Business Courier editor, is a cheerleader for business news stories. They can be important, high-impact pieces that pave the way to other newsroom jobs, he said.  Student journalists — like Courier summer intern, Miami journalism junior Joey Hart — would be smart to get a few business stories into their portfolios, according to Daumeyer. “You quickly find out it’s just like sports: There are winners and losers.”

  • Shannon Rosenberg, Miami class of 2012, made it to BuzzFeed after completing graduate school and several high-profile internships and early jobs. Now an assistant health editor, she concentrates on fitness, nutrition and, sometimes, sexual health. That last assignment explains why many of her recent bylines are attached to sex stories with heavy reader traffic. On BuzzFeed, she said, “everyone has such a positive response” about sex-related content.  Covering such topics can, however, be challenging when she stops to consider “my boyfriend’s parents are going to read this.”
  • While a Miami student, Nicole Theodore, class of 2014, immersed herself in media opportunities — working for three campus media organizations, interning for two off-campus employers and traveling to Kosovo and New York with journalism classes. She maintained that pace at Playboy.com, where she had three positions in less than three years, departing as an associate editor in May. Recently relocated from Los Angeles to New York, she’s now filling her days with coffee dates with Miami alums and other contacts and counting on her deep resume to help her land the next big thing.
  • Molly Shanks first visited the world of “unscripted television” after meeting Miami alum Jeff Conroy at a lunch on campus in 2012. She wrote him after that, then took up his invitation to visit his employer, Original Productions, during spring break.
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    “Media Matters” scholars learn about the journalistic elements of the Freedom Summer 1964 monument on Miami University’s Western Campus. 

    That led to a seven-month stint with Original Production’s Ax Men show in Los Angeles, then work for two shows and two pilots under Tribune Media in Chicago, then a production job with Dancing with the Stars and finally, since May, a position as associate story producer for another Original Productions’ show, Jay Leno’s Garage. Shanks told students she landed every position because she knew someone on the inside. “Your relationships are so important,” she said. “Stay on everyone’s radar.”

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    After heavy hints, “Media Matters” scholars came through with a red-frosted  b-day treat. 

    Finally, sincere thanks to the 2017 “Media Matters” scholars for their terrific engagement with guests and with their instructor. With seven of the eight pretty convinced they’ll apply to Miami, here’s hoping they are back in Oxford soon.

Patricia Gallagher Newberry has been a member of the Journalism Program faculty at Miami since 1997. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, Doug, their three college students and a baby basset hound, four-month-old J.J.