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Internship gives hope for new journalist

Coming as an intern to The Fig Tree, I was not sure what to expect.  It seemed ironic that in previous internships I had shifted away from the secular into the religious sector—from a position in the mayor’s office to a writer for the Latin American Theological Fellowship to a writer for The Fig Tree.  It seemed that God was pulling me toward nonprofit work.

As my time here comes to a close, I reflect on what I have learned from this kind of journalism.  The first time I heard the term “peace journalism” was during my training with Mary Stamp a few short months ago.  It intrigued me.  While I was interested in learning about a newspaper’s role within the community, I had not considered how it might bring people together instead of dividing them.

The Fig Tree practices peace journalism by bringing together the different faith groups in a common forum.  It focuses on similarities instead of differences, letting people tell their own stories according to their own backgrounds.

Through making our “Communicating Credibly” video, I learned that The Fig Tree is a voice within the community that reflects what it has to say while inspiring hope, informing people and involving faith groups to work together.

In my interviews, articles and videos I strove to put this kind of journalism into action.  It was not always easy.  The video program was unfamiliar, the internet was slow at times and with other new staff and volunteers, the office was sometimes crowded. 

Even these challenges taught me how I could adapt to and work with my environment.

I valued the opportunity to create the Communicating Credibly video. When Mary heard through my advisor that I had video editing skills, she told me how I could help.  Using iMovie, a program unfamiliar to me, I learned how to pull something together out of several video clips, events and interviews.  In the end, I was impressed with what I had learned and done in that amount of time.

In interviewing a professor, an organizer of Habitat for Humanity and a prophetic dancer, I have had the chance to learn other people’s stories without avoiding the “religion” question.  I could ask without fear those deeper questions regarding spirituality.

If I were to have the chance to do this internship over, I wish that I would have written a bit more and perhaps done a few more special projects.  I discovered, to my dismay, 120 hours only allows for so much.

I will miss the editing team.  These women are probably the kindest and most thorough editors I have ever worked with.  Even in the few hours I spent editing with them, I began to learn their editing styles and backgrounds. 

What journalism students do not always realize in choosing an internship is what is available in the area.  Although the internship was not paid, the experience was what was important.  I would recommend the Fig Tree to college students seeking an internship in journalism for credit.  Especially for anyone interested in working with nonprofits, the Fig Tree is a good fit.

Finally, I would like to thank Mary Stamp for her patience with me in this learning process.  As a supervisor she was excellent at making sure I had something to do while keeping in mind my personal goals for the internship. May she continue to serve The Fig Tree for years to come!

This experience has shown me what journalism can be like, which gives me hope for what I can be as a journalist. 

While the secular media try to exploit conflict, I realize that I can make a difference even in telling a small piece of the human experience with each person I interview.  That, to me, is what journalism should be about.

Heather Kennison

Editorial Intern