What Editors Want

Article excerpt

IN THEIR OWN words, newspaper recruiters discuss what they look for in entry-level journalists.

Jeanne Fox-Alston Washington Post On Curriculum...

"We ask for transcripts. We look at grades. But we are not looking for straight-A students -- or students who are just getting by. We look for a balance. Most students do reasonably well academically. We have become concerned that students are taking too many journalism courses and don't use enough of their time to get a broad education, to take languages. We want students who are open- minded. People who don't have preconceived notions about a story or an issue."

Jim Smith Cincinnati Enquirer On Recommendations...

"Don't put someone down as a reference without knowing what they are going to say We get to know which professors are shooting straight with you on recommendations and which ones are putting the best spin on things. Some people we trust immensely and tell us the true strengths and weaknesses of a candidate."

Sheila Wolfe Chicago Tribune On Experience...

"We look for students who have had previous internships. They have to have some good clips. I am used to reading lots of clips and letters and can get a good read on their writing style and consistency"

George Rede Portland Oregonian On Attitude...

"We want students to have a positive attitude. Someone who wants to learn. Someone who is coachable and who doesn't already have their minds made up before they get here. We don't want people who well recoil at the thought of doing obits. We want someone who will not turn his nose up at covering stories in the suburbs."

Linda Cunningham Rockford Register Star On Interviewing...

"When I'm recruiting, whether for an experienced reporter or an entry level, I look for the same thing: a sense of passion. I like journalists who walk into a room with an air of confidence, give me a solid handshake, and have an air of immediacy about them-some-one who will make contact. But the single most important thing they have to know is how to type, have a driver's license and know how to use spell check."

Lynn Kalber Palm Beach Post On Clips...

"Kids need experience outside of the classroom. I can't tell you how many times students come to me without any writing samples and without any experience.

"They come with papers from their classes, which always floors me. When it first happened, I wanted to bleed for them. Now I want to shake them."

Merrill Perlman New York Times On Interests...

I ask them what do you read. I ask them what they watch on TV I want to know if they make time to read. If they say they do, I ask them what they've read. I want to find out what kind of mind they have. I am interested in how curious they are about things, the kind of questions they ask. We ask them to write a 500-word essay from a list of five subjects and we also ask them to write something about themselves. We give them a week to write it."

Internship Menu

FOR A LISTING of 198 papers offering summer internships this year, check out the Web site of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (http://www. …