By working with interns, the Center fulfills one of its missions: To train the next generation of journalists in the skills of non-partisan investigative and public-interest journalism. Over the last 18 months, the Center has been lucky to have four interns who researched and wrote stories for us.
Emily Guerin, Mary Helen Miller, Darren Fishell and Nathaniel Herz each brought a drive to learn investigative reporting techniques. They had a nose for a story and the writing skills to tell it. We gave them editing, editing and more editing. They still like us, which is a miracle.
And they produced: Emily and Mary Helen were co-authors on the Center’s series about bail in Maine; Emily and Nathaniel were co-authors on our “Operation Resume Check” stories, in which we fact-checked the campaign resumes of Maine’s 2010 Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates.
Nathaniel also investigated a member of the state’s Worker Compensation Board who had pled guilty to his second assault case while on that board; Nathaniel’s stories led the governor’s office to mount an investigation and ended with the resignation of that official.
Darren did an exhaustive background investigation of state campaign finance laws that informs our reporting to this day.
Now, we’re happy to say, our interns are doing great things out in the world — all of them journalistic.
Emily is an ace reporter at the Forecaster, one of the Center’s media partners, covering Brunswick and Harpswell. Early in her Forecaster tenure, Emily covered a three-alarm fire that destroyed a downtown Brunswick building.
Her investigative chops led her to do a strong follow-up story that looked at the ability of cities and towns to do comprehensive fire inspections (most can’t).
Mary Helen worked at the Christian Science Monitor, producing stories and doing behind-the-scenes work for the website. Now she’s learning a new medium at the seven-week “learn everything you can about public radio production” workshop run by Transom.org.
“It’s week one,” she writes us from the Cape Cod workshop site, “and I’m incredibly excited about all this. … I shouldn’t even start on the scenery…”
Mary Helen writes that she wants to take the bail story she worked on at the Center and see if there’s a Cape Cod version to do for radio, since Cape Cod has the same antiquated bail commissioner system as Maine does.
Darren spent many months toiling on the future of journalism at one of Patch.com’s hyperlocal websites out in Diamond Bar, California.
He’d get the “Intern Working In the Most Interesting-Sounding Place Award from the Center” if he hadn’t decided to return to Maine to a reporting position at our media partner, The Times Record in Brunswick, where he’s covering Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell, Arrowsic, Georgetown, Pownal, and Wiscasset. You can see one of his latest stories here.
Finally, Nathaniel spent a year-and-a-half as an international cross-country ski journalist at Fasterskier.com, where he covered the Winter Olympics in Whistler and a number of World Cup events in Europe.
Nathaniel says he used his investigative skills in going after documents from hearings for athletes under investigation for using performance-enhancing drugs, and examining cases where the rules weren’t enforced.
“A few of my stories led to the return of more than $5,000 to two athletes who had missed out on prize money when they were beaten by an athlete who was cheating.”
Nathaniel’s now at the graduate Journalism School at Columbia University, where he was admitted to the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. His first story for the New York Daily News was published last weekend.
Nathaniel writes to us:
“It’s been illuminating to live in New York City and to witness the frequently-adversarial relationship between government and the media here: You can see that the press can be very important in keeping some of these larger-than-life politicians in check — something that’s not always on display back home… Some day, I plan to take what I’ve learned here back home with me to Maine — whether that’s in the short- or long-term remains to be seen.”