When Chips Quinn Scholars Program Director Karen Catone asked me to contribute to the CQS 25th anniversary project, my first question was, really? Are you sure?
I haven’t had a long career in journalism, but I believe I will one day.
I graduated from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., in May 2016 and had two internships at the Democrat & Chronicle before landing my first job there this fall.
I completed one of my favorite pieces – a multimedia and data project about the involvement of millennials in Rochester’s cultural institutions – during the summer of 2015 as I headed into my senior year of college. I wasn’t yet a Chips Quinn intern – that would happen in 2016. The project in 2015 was a joint effort with another intern, Alisha Foster, who, funny enough, was a Chips Quinn Scholar herself that year.
Alisha and I surmised that many places in Rochester – museums, science centers, art centers, independent theaters – were trying to get younger people, ages18 to 35, involved in their institutions and were using alcohol as a lure.
We found that the approach was working. It seemed that the young adults would come to the museum, some for the first time since a grammar-school field trip, for the 21-and-over events.
What I enjoyed about the project was how we were able to investigate what was happening in Rochester. We started with big ideas, many sources and not much direction.
We narrowed the scope, week by week, source by source, to come up with a story that told the truth. We used text, video, photos and graphs to tell this lengthy story.
I also like how the piece looks on a mobile platform. It’s important to present the material in the best way possible, and we used a long-form or “snowfall” effect to help readers digest such a long story. The format separates the story into chapters, with visuals for each section.
I appreciate what this piece taught me as an intern. Using long-form was something Alisha and I wanted; we had to ask for it. We also wanted to include data to support our conclusions. From there, we provided interactive charts and graphs from sources I discovered in a journalism class – a database even the D&C wasn’t aware of.
I learned how to enhance a good story idea and properly embellish a story, to give it that edge that makes it better than the rest. A longer piece that doesn’t scare away readers with too much text, but rather caters to them with heavy visuals and segmented text while still providing the necessary information.
Essentially, this piece taught me to go above and beyond an assignment. Armed with an idea, we came back not only with a story but also with video, several still photos, interactive infographics, breakout boxes and statistics, as well as a unique platform on which to present our work.
That’s also why it has become one of my favorites. The piece would have been presented in a routine way – with a video, a couple of stills and normal text layout – had Alisha and I not suggested to the editors ways of making the experience better for readers.
The week after our internship ended, the piece ran on the front page on a Monday – exciting for two interns.
I look forward to my career and to the many more pieces I’m going to take pride in. I’m extremely thankful for the role of the Chips Quinn program in my internships, friendships and work with amazing, driven people.
Multimedia project with Alisha Foster (CQS Summer 2015)
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