The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has launched its first summer reporting internship program as it aims to teach, train and inspire the next generation of ethical, intellectually rigorous journalists.
With the support of an estate gift from the late alumnus and Los Angeles real estate broker William Irving Griffith ’46, the new program continues to advance the school’s investment in investigative journalism. Funding from the gift provides salary and support for a select group of full-time summer reporting interns from USC Annenberg and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Led by veteran journalists and professors Christina Bellantoni, Gary Cohn and Mark Schoofs, six students will delve into USC’s culture and governance during a pivotal time as the university seeks to regain the trust of its community. The articles written by the students will be offered simultaneously to the Daily Trojan campus newspaper and the student news outlet Annenberg Media, and may also be freelanced to other publications.
“We couldn’t think of a better mission for a journalism school than helping students to shine a light on the many challenges USC is facing,” said Schoofs, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who established BuzzFeed News’ investigative team before joining USC Annenberg earlier this year as a visiting professor of journalism. “I believe Mr. Griffith, who was a Daily Trojan reporter himself, would be so proud to see these students sharing his dedication to the craft. We are so grateful for his legacy of generous support that makes this possible.”
More than 40 highly qualified students from across USC applied for the internship.
“We were extremely impressed by the student applicants’ passion for journalism, their curiosity, their storytelling skills and their desire to make a positive impact on USC and the larger community,” said Cohn, a Pulitzer Prize winner and adjunct instructor.
Bellantoni, director of USC Annenberg’s Media Center, added that it was heartening to see the number of talented applicants who want to dig into issues even when they hit close to home.
“There will be even more opportunities for students to report on the subject for the Daily Trojan and Annenberg Media, and also through USC Annenberg courses being offered this Fall,” she said.
The 2019 summer reporting interns working on what is being called the USC Beacon Project are:
Consuelo Cifuentes is a candidate for the M.S. in Communication Management in 2020. Previously, she was a political and investigative reporter and did fact-checking for the largest newspaper in Chile for five years.
Sam Kmack, a rising senior journalism major, is from Albany, New York. He is a journalist for both the Daily Trojan and Annenberg Media.
Austin Peay is a rising senior double majoring in law, history and culture and classics. Previously, he has been the politics editor for Annenberg Media and worked on a congressional campaign in Orange County.
Sasha Urban is a rising junior majoring in journalism, and most recently served as news editor for the Daily Trojan. He is originally from New York City.
Kaidi “Ruby” Yuan is a rising senior who is majoring in journalism and double minoring in digital studies and future cinema. He hails from Wuhan, China, and went to high school in Virginia. He is the incoming executive editor of Annenberg Media. Yuan will hold a special hybrid role, coordinating publication with Annenberg Media, while also reporting for the project.
Ashley Zhang is a rising sophomore studying political science. She writes for the features and opinion sections of the Daily Trojan and formerly served as editor in chief of Palo Alto High School’s newspaper, The Campanile.
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