Karen Peterson: Interns and editors will continue to learn

Executive editorJune 1, 2014 

First, a quiet guy in the back row at the news meeting stands, smiles and introduces himself as “Andy the Intern” Then I stumble across another well-dressed, but tense-looking fellow sitting among the news reporters, learning how to use the computer.

Yep, it’s intern season at The News Tribune, that time when we welcome the opportunity to mentor the next generation of journalists and give them a shot at working in a professional newsroom. Invariably, we also learn from them, and their enthusiasm reminds us why we got in the business to begin with.

We received twice as many applicants as usual this year, with inquiries from across the country. Nearly every student had either worked as an editor or held a management role at their college newspapers.

“We’re seeing an uptick in interest from journalism majors who are quite serious about pursuing a career in print journalism – yes, print journalism” TNT intern coordinator Sue Kidd said. “The students we selected were specifically interested in making sure their work is published in print, as well as online.

Here are this summer’s TNT interns:

• News intern Ryan Tarinelli, a University of Idaho sophomore. He’ll be managing editor of the student newspaper when he returns to school in August. He interned at the Moscow-Pullman News last summer and is a double major in journalism and applied music performance. He is a graduate of Bellevue’s Interlake High School.

• News intern Shelby Rowe, a Western Washington University junior. She’s majoring in journalism, has been an editor on The Western Front and freelanced for The Bellingham Herald. Rowe graduated from Bonney Lake High School.

• Sports intern Andy Bixler, a junior at the University of Montana. He went to high school in Montana and is sports editor of his college newspaper. A journalism major, he’s also studying political science and has been a basketball beat reporter for his college paper.

• Sports intern Evan Thompson, a Central Washington University junior. He’s been sports editor and online editor for his college paper and has completed an internship with The Yakima-Herald Republic. He’s a South Whidbey High School graduate and has been freelancing for The Ellensburg Daily Record.

Keep an eye on these bylines. The TNT has a strong record of hiring interns for full-time positions. Alexis Krell, Melissa Santos, Kari Plog, TJ Cotterill and many other current staffers first came to our newsroom as interns.

CAPTION CONFUSION

We received several complaints about the caption under our main photograph on last Sunday’s front page. The story addressed concerns about long waits for veterans seeking care at local Veterans Administration facilities.

The photograph showed veterans at the Seattle VA waiting in line, but for travel reimbursements rather than medical appointments. Our attempt to add context to the caption and clarify that the picture was taken at the Seattle VA hospital rather than the American Lake hospital might have further led readers astray.

Here’s what the caption said: “Officials with the VA say complaints of long lines and wait times for appointments at the Seattle (pictured) and American Lake VA hospitals are emblematic of the challenges they face” We should have added a sentence that said specifically why the veterans were waiting in line or chosen a different lead picture that didn’t run the risk of misleading readers.

We ran a correction last week, but also wanted to thank the readers who pointed out the problem. You were right, and we’ll watch more carefully.

WORD CHOICE ON IMMIGRANTS

We also heard from readers about a recent story about college scholarships available to children of people residing in the United States illegally.

The story referred to the parents as illegal immigrants.

“I hope you understand that those terms carry negative connotations because they instantly infer that the people being described have committed a criminal act” one reader wrote. Some people came here legally, but overstayed their visas, she said. She preferred we use the term “undocumented”

Word choice is important in matters such as this. The Associated Press, of which we’re a member, sets guidelines on word usage for news organizations across the country. With a few exceptions, we follow its guidelines and will do so on this matter, a slight change from our current usage.

The AP stylebook contains this entry:

“Illegal immigration: Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use ‘illegal’ only to refer to an action, not a person: ‘illegal immigration’ but not ‘illegal immigrant’

“Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where … . People who were brought into the country as children should not be described as having immigrated illegally”

We don’t use the term “undocumented” because most people have documents of some kind, but not always the ones that make them legal residents.

People with strong feelings about illegal immigration might fault our usage decision, but we believe it achieves our goals of being both accurate and sensitive to those we’re writing about.

Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434
karen.peterson@thenewstribune.com

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