February 28, 2008

On the Front Lines of Journalism

Meghan Muldowney ’08 shares her experiences externing at The New York Times

Meghan Muldowney ’08 (Norwalk, Conn.) is an English and anthropology & sociology double major who, through her course work, discovered her interest and gift for journalism. She recently observed what a career in journalism entails during an externship hosted by Alan Finder P’08, reporter for the education department at The New York Times. The following is a first-person account of Muldowney’s externship with Finder.

  • Alan Finder P’08 reflects on hosting externships for Natalie Cothren ’09 and Meghan Muldowney ’08
  • Natalie Cothren ’09 Shadows Alan Finder P’08 at The New York Times

Unaware of the impact it would have on me, I signed up for Professor [Kenneth] Briggs’ [visiting part-time instructor of English] Journalistic Writing class sophomore year. The final project I did for the class, a feature story about the increasing standards of admission at Lafayette, opened me up to the possibility of pursuing journalism as a career. This past summer, I worked as a reporter and editorial assistant at the Stamford Advocate, a newspaper in Stamford, Conn. As an intern at the Advocate, I wrote 13 articles, four of which were cover stories, and worked hard to learn the secrets of the trade. This January, I returned to work at the Advocate for two weeks.

Walking into the brand-new New York Times building on Eighth Avenue in midtown New York City was a stunning experience in and of itself. The extremely modern building was sleek and glossy, more reminiscent of a magazine cover than the gray newsprint residue left behind on my fingertips. While it was a little overwhelming to walk into the home of such a legendary publication, it was also exciting.

Mr. Finder gave me a tour of the building, showing me all the different departments, including the business department and sports section. It was interesting to see the layout of the building and to realize how much effort and manpower goes into creating each issue of the paper. He described the behind-the-scenes work that goes into writing an article, such as the numerous phone calls and interviews that are conducted to make sure each detail of the story is correct and exact.

I was able to sit in on the 4 p.m. news meeting, where editors from different departments of the paper pitch story ideas for that day’s edition. Before the New York editors gave their story ideas, the correspondent from Washington opened the meeting with an update on a political story she was following. It was far from the hectic and heated environment I had imagined, largely based on the portrayal of such meetings in films like All the President’s Men and books like The Tender Bar.

Shadowing Mr. Finder for the day was a wonderful experience and I am grateful to Career Services for allowing me such an opportunity. After graduation, I hope to pursue a career in journalism and eventually get a master’s degree in Journalism or Creative Writing.

Muldowney is a member of Delta Delta Delta Sorority and served as their social chairman in 2006. She studied London Theater abroad during the winter interim of 2007. She has worked as a receptionist in the Admissions Office since her freshman year and currently works as a campus tour guide for them as well.

  • Internships/Externships
  • Career Services
  • English
  • Anthropology & Sociology

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