The TFAS D.C. Academic Internship program track on Journalism + Communications has cultivated careers for many journalists who are leading the way in political reporting, mass communication, photojournalism and more.
Many TFAS and Journalism + Communications alumni have crossed paths as interviewer and interviewee, reporting in the same cities or even sitting across from one another in the same newsroom.
That’s just what Charlie Scudder ’11, Dana Amihere ’10 and Tristan Hallman ’10 recently discovered while working at The Dallas Morning News (DMN).
Amihere says organizations like DMN and TFAS are attractive to young people who strive to succeed.
“It’s a really exciting time to be at The Dallas Morning News, and I can see how that would be a real attraction to [Journalism + Communications] alumni,” Amihere said. “TFAS encourages us to take risks and to try things that are different. So I think that element makes DMN a really good fit. At DMN things are more lively. People are really excited about doing good journalism, chasing a story idea that’s never been done before and presenting it in a completely unorthodox way.”
For Amihere, working in the media wasn’t always her first career choice. As an undergraduate at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, she studied a wide variety of subjects including philosophy, Spanish, English and photography. It wasn’t until after graduation and her first day at TFAS that she gained her first “real” experience in journalism. While at TFAS, Amihere interned at the Hearst D.C. bureau.
“I had the journalism internship before I actually learned how to be a journalist. I even got my first front page story while [at TFAS]!” – Dana Amihere ’10
In the six years since that first front page story, Amihere has seen great success in her journalism career. She’s obtained a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Maryland, taught a digital publishing course at Towson University and worked at Pew Research in D.C. as a visual data developer, all leading her to where she is now at DMN.
Amihere just started working at DMN as an interactive graphics editor. She uses data visualization and interactive components to help tell news stories. In her first few weeks as an employee, she has already contributed to multiple visual interactive essays, including a piece about John F. Kennedy and the anniversary of his assassination.
Just a few desks over sits Scudder, another TFAS alumnus who works in a completely different field at DMN. Scudder just started in his new position as a staff writer for the “how we live” hub at DMN, where he tells feature stories on lifestyles in the Dallas community. Scudder is excited about this new role and is looking forward to the new opportunities it presents.
“It’s giving me a lot more freedom,” Scudder said. “I’m excited that it’s giving me a chance to do more stories that I’m interested in. We’re still figuring out what our coverage areas are going to be, but I’m excited for the chance to kind of help shape it with the guidance of my editors.”
In contrast to Amihere, Scudder got an early start in his journalism career. He covers stories in the region of Dallas where he grew up, but he has worked in newspaper offices across the country since his days as a high school freshman reporter. He’s held multiple internships, including his TFAS internship at the Gannett Washington bureau at USA Today. He interned at DMN twice in high school and once as a collegiate intern, which directly preceded his full-time position there. Scudder graduated from the Indiana University School of Journalism in 2014, where he was the editor-in-chief of the Indiana Daily Student newspaper.
Scudder says his internship experience at TFAS helped him learn how to tell stories in a new way, and those skills stuck with him throughout his career.
“I was reporting for a large number of local papers around the country,” Scudder said. “I had to find a way to take a story and make sure that it was relevant for everyone and for specific audiences and make it applicable to readers. Those skills are specifically from TFAS, and they’re still with me.”
The third TFAS alumnus at DMN is Tristan Hallman. Hallman covers North Texas crime, the police department and Dallas Fire-Rescue. He provides news and analysis impacting Dallas-area police, courts, fire and other public safety issues and entities.
Hallman graduated with a master’s degree from the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2012. In addition to his TFAS summer, Hallman held internships across the country in Austin, New York, D.C. and Dallas. In another similarity to Scudder, Hallman also interned at the Gannett Washington bureau just one year prior.
Until mid-January, these three TFAS alumni working in downtown Dallas didn’t even realize they were all alumni of the same program. The three have found success in vastly different areas at DMN, and this speaks to the diverse professional training that TFAS students receive.
“The combination of an internship placement, mentorship, community and the other opportunities that are [given] to you as TFAS student, I don’t think that’s something that you can put a price on,” said Amihere. “I don’t think they’re just shaping us as journalists but as really confident, really prepared young professionals. It’s preparing us for a different world than the one they grew up in, and it’s preparing us for challenges that we’re going to face down the road.”
For current and future TFAS students, Scudder gave some advice on making the most of their experience.
“Don’t be afraid to find people you admire and reach out to them. The speakers that TFAS brings in are remarkable. There are so many opportunities that TFAS gives you, so make sure you take advantage of all of them.” – Charlie Scudder ’11
One of those opportunities Amihere took advantage of as a TFAS student is just the thing that she says will shape her long-term career.
“One of the things that I especially loved about TFAS was the mentorship,” Amihere said. “It shaped the fact that I wanted to help other students in the way that TFAS helped me, and I actually had the opportunity to be a TFAS mentor too. TFAS made me want to help other students more than I already had, and it gave me a nudge in that direction even more.”
Amihere says because of TFAS, she hopes to continue giving back to students through mentoring and teaching, just as TFAS gave to her.
Both Amihere and Scudder also spoke to the importance of giving back to TFAS so future journalism students can succeed in their careers.
“This is an invaluable experience for an aspiring journalism student that I don’t think I could have [received] otherwise. TFAS rolls everything together for you in such a way that it’s an experience that can’t be replicated by anyone trying to do it on their own.” – Dana Amihere ’10
Scudder says his TFAS experience “laid the foundation” for his career as a young journalist, and that he wouldn’t have been able to participate if it wasn’t for TFAS supporters.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do TFAS if it wasn’t for the donors,” Scudder said. “TFAS is the one thing that I made sure I took advantage of. Because of the coursework and internship experience, it is a phenomenal experience, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.”
Do you know an aspiring young journalist or communications student who would benefit from a summer interning in Washington, D.C.? The priority application deadline for the 2017 Institute on Political Journalism is Feb. 8, 2017. Apply today at www.DCinternships.org/IPJ!