E-Net News

Intern Insider: Journalism Student Paves Her Own Path through the Internet

Like so many other students, she knew she wanted to intern this summer, she just didn't know where. She looked and looked. She met with Internship Director Nagatha Tonkins. She did all she could to find something, some place that would be an ideal fit.

Ashley Dischinger

Ashley Dischinger is a senior journalism major, and she wasn’t completely lost. The one thing she knew for sure was that she wanted some kind of multimedia internship. She wanted more than pen on paper. Tonkins pointed her toward WCBS 880 AM—a popular New York radio station—and its impressive online presence, which is managed by Elon alumnus Travis Lusk ’05.

Dischinger immediately contacted Lusk, the new media manager for WCBS, sent her resume, exchanged some e-mails and was hired.

“I literally screamed so loud that my roommate came in to make sure I was OK,” Dischinger says. “I was so beyond excited because I applied for the internship on a whim, not thinking that I would ever get the position. I still don’t think it’s sunk in.”

Dischinger works for WCBS 880, 92.3 NOW and 1010 WINS, all of which are in the CBS family. She edits audio clips, posts AP news stories to the site and updates stories that have already been published online.

She also shadows one of the top reporters at WCBS 880, Roxanne Geyer, who is also the Web content producer. And after helping Geyer edit and shoot two stories, Dischinger was allowed to cover one on her own.

“I did everything myself—shot and edited video, set up interviews, took photos, wrote the story and posted all the content to the Web site,” she says. “I definitely have more responsibilities than I thought I would have. I have a good mix of assignments on a daily basis.”

Dischinger’s story was about a bubble battle in Times Square, a story she pitched to Lusk herself. He approved the story and turned her loose. After Dischinger put together the final produce, Geyer sent the piece to Lusk and to people in different branches of the company. Dischinger says she received positive notes from everyone.

“It really means a lot to me that professionals who have been in the business for so long are giving me positive feedback, especially since my background is print, not broadcast, and I’ve had virtually no experience putting together video stories,” Dischinger says. “I think this reflects well on Elon and how well the School of Communications prepares us for our future careers.”

The small amount of experience Dischinger did get, though, came from her Reporting for the Public Good course, she says. In it, she was required to write stories, shoot and edit video from Flip cameras and post all of it online. Those long hours she spent in the computer labs seemed arduous at the time, she says. But without it, she says she wouldn’t be handling the internship as well as she has.

“I showed up at my internship and realized I already knew a great deal more than I thought,” she says. “Now the internship allows me to put the knowledge to use in a professional setting.”

And the professional setting in which she interns happens to be New York, where she lives by herself. Working in a fast-paced newsroom is sometimes enough to scare off interns. But moving to Manhattan alone? That’s another challenge that Dischinger says she’s had to overcome.

But she says being forced outside her comfort zone has required her to focus her energy on her work and her internship. It’s made her learn quickly. And, of course, as an internship is apt to do, it’s taught her a little about herself.

“I’ve had the chance to see firsthand how a newsroom works, not to mention I’ve been able to do a great deal of work on my own in just a few short weeks,” Dischinger says. “I’ve been outside my comfort zone 24/7 since moving to the city, but I’ve had some incredible experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

And that’s her goal for the internship, she says. She wants to learn from every one of her experiences. What kinds of stories does she enjoy covering? Does she enjoy writing? Does she enjoy shooting and editing? All those questions (and several others bouncing around her head) are ones she’ll have answered when she returns to Elon in the fall. And those answers will help steer her during her final year of school and into a post-graduation career.

“The way I see it, if I can survive a summer in New York City at a major news organization, I can pretty much survive anything,” Dischinger says. “Between this internship and my final year at Elon, I think I’ll be more prepared to handle whatever the future holds for me.”

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 or in School of Communications programs.

Colin Donohue,
7/2/2009 4:05 PM