E-Net News

Intern Insider: Student Goes Beyond the Print to Embrace the Online World

You could say she had declared her major as a pre-adolescent. At the budding age of 10—still a child—she had already articulated her career aspiration: She had a passion for print, and that was it.

Hubert-Allen has taught herself Flash this summer as an online editing intern at the Pocono Record.

As a fifth grader, Olivia Hubert-Allen, now a senior in the School of Communications, told everyone who asked that journalism was her raison d’être, a response spurred by the fact that she was part of a group of five students that produced a newspaper for its elementary school.

It was a monthly two-column product, put together in an old word processing program. But the practice of reporting on and relaying the news to a larger community struck a chord with Hubert-Allen.

“My intentions were to be print,” says Hubert Allen, a journalism and political science double major. “Growing up that’s what I was, what I had my mind set on, what I was preparing for, what I wanted to do. I really love to write.”

These days, things have changed slightly for her. During her junior year, she embraced a new outlook on a newspaper journalism business that is rapidly morphing from a print-only entity to a Web-based enterprise.

Her internship this summer with the Pocono Record, a daily newspaper in Stroudsburg, Pa., has only reinforced the notion that she must conceptualize journalism as more than print on paper.

“I’ve gone from strictly thinking of myself as a print person, but now as a print person who has Web skills,” she says. “I want to do anything (a news organization) needs me to do—writing, packaging, online, anything really.”

Hubert-Allen gained her internship through acceptance to the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Internship program. The process required taking—and passing—an exam that tests students’ knowledge of AP Style, current events, headline writing and copy editing. As many as 800 students nationwide take the test, but about 30 are chosen.

She says she chose to focus on online editing “because that’s where the jobs are, that’s where this industry is going.” But before she joined the Record, she had to attend a one-week editing boot camp in June at Western Kentucky University, where she and others had an intensive seven days of multimedia training during which time they put together an online package that included video, a Flash map, a Flash timeline, a print story and graphics designed in Illustrator.

“The boot camp was a lot of fun,” says Hubert-Allen, the editor of The Pendulum, Elon’s weekly student newspaper. “It was non-stop journalism. And the people who are there are so fanatical about journalism that it makes for a very fun setting.”

Soon after, she started her fourth internship as the online editing intern at the Pocono Record, where she is in charge of the multimedia content, the creation of splash pages for special packages and some basic HTML and CSS coding.

“I’m trying to get people to understand what is possible with multimedia,” she says. “One of the problems with the Pocono Record is that they do (multimedia work), but they haven’t pulled things together into a unified package yet.”

Hubert-Allen says the online staff at the Record is small, so she’s had to do a lot of on-the-job learning. But she says her learning curve has been high because she doesn’t have to focus on the print product at all, which affords her time to read books about software programs and HTML coding.

“This honestly, of all the internships I’ve had, I have learned so much already, and I’ve only been here three and a half weeks,” she says. “I was put in this position and expected to do these things, so I had to teach myself a lot of stuff. I taught myself pretty much Flash in three weeks. Technology like that will be valuable in years to come as things continue to change.”

Her newfound knowledge, coupled with the training she received in the School of Communications, has made Hubert-Allen a more balanced, marketable journalist, she says.

“If journalism doesn’t work out, having those skill sets is very transferable,” she says. “I can make a living building Web sites for people.”

But don’t misunderstand her: Hubert-Allen still maintains a deep-rooted love of reporting and the printed product. Gaining employment at a newspaper remains her No. 1 goal. But, she acknowledges that she needs to combine her long-standing passion for writing with her fledging online aptitude because being no more than a writer charts a sure path away from newspapers.

“I want to become so comfortable that I can be a one-man show, so that I can go to a smaller paper and I can produce and code and photograph and cut video for the Web site,” she says. “I need to sort of position myself to have as many Web skills as possible, so I will be able to market myself that way.

“As I’ve gotten more involved with multimedia, I’ve really liked it. I thought, ‘Wow, I can combine these two things I really love—journalism with technology—and I can do both of them at the same time and produce really cool things.’ ”

Intern Insider will run one to two times a week during the summer and will feature brief stories about some of the interns from the School of Communications.

Hubert-Allen now embraces the role the Internet is playing in the print journalism business.

Colin Donohue,
7/20/2008 4:28 PM