October 1, 2018

NYT's internships evolve; secrets of obit writing; an expanded role for ESPN's Van Natta

Inspired by programs at The Atlantic and Politico, the New York Times announced new yearlong fellowships, starting next summer.

The paid, Guild-covered positions will be in the New York and Washington newsrooms, aimed at recent graduates. The immersive program will replace the traditional summer internship, although such internships will remain on The Times' business side.

"We believe that the fellowship, which will incorporate speakers, feedback and training opportunities, will better serve young journalists," the Times said in a release. The paper did not say how many positions will be available, but stressed that few of the reporters, photographers, videographers, social and audio producers, designers and visual editors would remain at the Times after their fellowships.

Apart from the NYT's FAQ here, I had a few questions for Theodore Kim, the NYT's director of newsroom fellowships and internships. Here are the highlights:

Q. How long has the company had been thinking about it?

A. Our publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, has been thinking about revamping our career programs for some years to more closely match our needs and the needs of incoming journalists. The effort picked up again this summer as we began moving toward a fellowship concept that would take the place of our signature summer internship and better serve both early-career journalists and our newsroom. 

Q. What attracted the NYT to this model?

A. The Atlantic and Politico models intrigued us because those programs are very well run and they now serve as real talent pipelines. The Boston Globe's use of a writing coach is a very effective idea that we have since copied and hope to continue with the fellowship.

Q. I know the release said “century old” — do you have a precise start year for internships, overall numbers of interns, or particularly famous (and diverse) interns?

A. Our intern program began sometime in the mid-1990s. We've had quite a few famous alums of our internship, our 8i intermediate journalist program and our old 7T trainee program, which preceded the internship and which we have tracked going back to the late 1970s. Alums of these programs include: Cliff Levy, Ian Fisher, Monica Drake, Yamiche Alcindor, Vikas Bajaj, Vivian Yee, Nick Kristof, Dana Canedy, Nicholas Confessore, Susan Chira, Lydia Polgreen, James Bennet (just to name a few).

Quick hits

PUBLISHER ‘UNHIRED’: Lee Enterprises rescinded the hiring of a newspaper publisher in Montana, a former GateHouse Media official, after his racist and sexist personal social media posts surface.

WHY SO WHITE?: Can we get a White House press corps that looks like America?, the Washington Post's Paul Farhi writes.

A LIFE IN 1,000 WORDS: “People think it’s a rather gloomy job, but it’s very seldom a sad job,” says Ann Wroe, obituary editor for The Economist. Her topics, on the magazine’s last page, have included Prince, a woman who was a specialist on place names, and a fish. “I’ll spot someone who looks really interesting and I’ll hear a bell going off in my head. I do it for the story, and not whether the person is famous.”

A LIFE IN 4 MINUTES AND 22 SECONDS: That’s the length of the indelible CNN video of Sen. Jeff Flake being confronted by two sexual assault survivors, minutes before the Republican senator voted to curtail the investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and then committed to allow his nomination to proceed to the full Senate after a weeklong FBI probe. Flake and Sen. Chris Coons talked about the origins of that weeklong probe on "60 Minutes."

AMBUSHED: After The Washington Post’s Jessica Contrera wrote about Christine Blasey Ford, her inbox exploded. “There’s a pattern,” Contera wrote in a series of tweets that excerpted the emails, alternating between raw personal history of other victims and the nastiest in unfounded, misogynistic attacks.

IN HIS OWN FAMILY: Fox News's Chris Wallace said the Kavanaugh confirmation battle prompted the disclosure of long-ago harassment against his family. “Two of my daughters told me stories that I had never heard before about things that happened to them in high school,” Wallace said. "The point is that there are teenage girls who don’t tell stories to a lot of people, and then it comes up.” Related: When the news itself is a form of trauma.

AT THEIR OWN PAPER: Christine Blasey Ford's accusation of a decades-old sexual assault by Judge Kavanaugh prompted a retired Los Angeles Times copy editor to go public as well, first on a closed Facebook page and then in the pages of her old paper. “It's time for me to speak up,” Kathy Gosnell, 73, wrote. “In the early 1980s, I was drugged, beaten and raped by one of our colleagues at the L.A. Times.” The assailant, she said, has since died. Current Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine said he was deeply troubled by the account. After Gosnell’s post, several colleagues shared their experiences of being harassed by men at the Times. The offenders often not only kept their jobs, but were promoted. At the time, Gosnell said, she felt speaking up would have doomed her career, so she lived with it, unshared, for three decades, only letting her grown daughter know last year. After the rape, "she took shower after shower after shower and never told a soul," reporter Victoria Kim wrote.

BACKSTORY: ESPN has expanded the role of Don Van Natta Jr., who will headline a new docu-series called “Backstory” and a new podcast called “Triangle.” Van Natta, a three-time Pulitzer winner formerly of the New York Times and the Miami Herald, has been a contributor to “Outside The Lines” and has a weekly newsletter devoted to long-form journalism, The Sunday Long Read. I'll be talking in a few days to Van Natta about stories that inspire and move; let me know what you want me to ask him. 

COVERING POVERTY: With fewer journalists covering poverty, a Georgia school has relaunched a resource center with best practices and examples in covering this issue and its relationship with education, health and crime, and more.

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