An Internship in Science Journalism

This semester, I’ve been taken a closer look at how the public stays informed about research and environment-related issues. My internship was different than everyone else’s in that it was largely independent — Andy Keeler, the director of the field site, was my mentor, and together we looked at examples of “science journalism” and tried to unpack that phrase.

I came to this field site with a strong background in journalism. When it came time for interviews to help select our internships, I had the idea of pursuing science journalism, which was what I always thought I wanted to do. Although that has since changed (I changed my major right before the semester started), this internship was still a helpful and interesting experience.

On internship days, which were every Monday and every other Wednesday, I headed to the Coastal Studies Institute to meet with Andy about what I was working on and where I was going. Normally, this meant talking about articles I read or about an assignment. Then, I either stayed at CSI or headed to the public library (such a quiet place to work!) to get through my to-do list.

The first articles I looked at spanned a large timeframe. Invention Factory by Malcolm Ross is a New Yorker article that is a good example of writing that has stood the test of time — the article is from 1931 and is exciting to read! For something a little more recent, The Social Life of Genes by David Dobbs was my favorite article I read for this internship.

(Not to load this post with links, but if you want to read my favorite remotely-science-y piece ever, head to National Geographic for To Walk the World by Paul Salopek)

I’ve also been looking at some longer works, too, like Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and John McPhee’s Annals of the Former World. I spent part of the semester working on writing some pieces, myself. I tried my hand at a press release about the Outer Banks Field Site, as well as a researcher spotlight about my mentor, Andy. I’m still working on an article about beach combing and laws relating to that, which I hope to have done soon.

All in all, I’m glad that my internship was low-stress and largely self-paced. When I applied, I was a journalism major, and having an opportunity to pursue that field while also studying the environment really drew me in. It’s just another example of how the Outer Banks Field Site really is open to students who come from all disciplines and backgrounds.