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Students Network with Alumni Journalists in Summer Session Class

The course description for Introduction to Journalism gives fair warning: “Consider this class your gateway drug to becoming a news junkie.”

Students in CC Visiting Lecturer Corey Hutchins’s class, offered during Colorado College’s Summer Session, spent three days in Washington, D.C., at the end of the course, where they visited the Washington, D.C. office of The New York Times, NPR's headquarters, the Newseum, received a training session from the Society of Professional Journalists and Google News Initiative, and met with a variety of CC alumni working in journalism.

Jim Burke, director of CC’s Summer Session, says he wanted to capitalize on CC alumni living in the area in order to make the students’ experience more than just a tour. Among the alumni CC students met were Roger Friskey ’72, founder of Friskey Associates Communications, LLC; Thom Shanker ’78, assistant Washington editor for The New York Times; PBS NewsHour correspondent William Brangham ’90; Jennifer Jose ’92, vice president of messaging and interactive marketing for National Association of Broadcasters; Bloomberg journalist Heather Perlberg ’05; Michael Beckel ’05, manager of research, investigations, and policy analysis for Issue One; freelance writer Michael Meyer ’07; Nick Wing ’09, former Huffington Post senior reporter; Josh Raab ’11, director of Instagram for National Geographic; and Dana Cronin ’17 at NPR.

When meeting with alumni, students discussed story ideas, learned how local stories become national stories, and got input from editors on how to further develop the story ideas created in the course. The major assignment of the journalism class was to take a local issue and nationalize it. The three local issues were a bike lane controversy, a rumored-Manitou Springs cult, and the high rape rate in Colorado Springs.

Julia Fennell ’23, who blogged about the class experience, says Shanker “answered our questions, described the inner workings in his department, and advised us on potential internships with The New York Times. He was generous with his time, and made sure that we had answers to every question we asked.”

Another highlight for her was visiting the NPR headquarters. “My parents and I love NPR, and I grew up listening to it almost every day. The NPR building was incredible! … Everyone was super friendly, and gave us great advice, both for journalism and for life. Dana talked to us about how to pitch ideas, and how it’s not as scary as we might think.”

Robert Schilling ’22, who also blogged about the course, says, “I talked most of dinner with Nick Wing, who gave us advice on getting into the industry. Due to the engaging conversation, dinner lasted well past the planned 8 p.m.”

“CC has faculty and alumni in in every industry, and it’s exciting to bring these groups together – not only does it make courses more dynamic, but students are getting a glimpse into how they will apply lessons to their future — whether it’s making connections with people in the industry they hope to join after graduation or observing how alumni use their CC experience as a foundation for lifelong passions,” says Burke.