Post 3 — Local News Fills the Void

Tragedy strikes Evansville whilst my internship is coming to a close: a house explosion, killing 3 people and destroying numerous houses, shakes the community. Although a sad way to leave Evansville, this rather abrupt close has prompted a lot of reflection on my part. Namely, in times like these, the importance of local journalism is abundantly clear. Although I have not been involved with this reporting, the experience of hearing and seeing how a newsroom mobilizes in times of crisis has been incredibly valuable. 

Photo courtesy Daniel Sarch / Courier & Press A house, located on 1010 N. Weinbach Ave. in Evansville, IN, exploded Wednesday evening. The explosion caused three deaths and damaged 39 houses.

This internship gave me so much perspective, both in being able to observe different communities’ and peoples’ ways of life, as well as providing me with insight on what careers/opportunities I wish to pursue in the future. I fell in love with this small but mighty newspaper, filled with bright and quiet (yet at the same time also tenacious) journalists.

This summer, I have identified what kind of workplace I value. I now know that I require a loud and busy environment in order to effectively work. I have also learned that I do not want a desk job. I want to work with people and do so in person (pending public health safety, of course). Due to office and family COVID-19 cases, I spent a lot of the summer working from home, something I would like to minimize going forward if possible. 

I am most proud of the connections I made in the community and my increased confidence in interviewing and writing. Little things like introducing myself on the phone to sources brought such a rush – “This is Jen Crystal with the Courier & Press. It was so exciting to claim belonging to an organization in that kind of way, and it was so rewarding to afterward have learned new things from interesting community members. My favorite thing about journalism has been and continues to be the level of trust sources put into their writers to honestly and respectfully portray themselves and their experiences. I think I have grown a lot as a writer and as an interviewer this summer, and I am immensely proud of that growth.  

Here is my advice to people hoping to enter or intern in this field: 

  • Be persistent – In finding sources, interviewing, and even in finding your internship, do not hesitate to go through unusual channels if your initial outreach doesn’t pan through.


  • If there isn’t an internship program in place, don’t let that hold you back – Although the Courier & Press does have an official internship program, I reached out to the newspaper’s editors and acquired my internship that way. Especially with programs like WoW, you can work with your employers to create a position if a formal/paid position does not exist or is not available.




Post 2 — Settling In & Passion Projects

I find myself on a stronger footing as my time at the Courier & Press has elapsed. It has both flown by like sand through an hourglass and seeped slowly like molasses. From how I pitch stories to the greater sense of confidence I now feel when entering interviews, I can feel how my demeanor has calmed as I have settled into my role. 

One of the most exciting developments has been the kinds of stories I have been working on, all of which I am extremely passionate about. I have been doing a lot of research on reproductive freedom and survivorship. Specifically, I have researched reproductive coercion and both the implications of survivors not having reproductive agency and the danger pregnancy can put people in who are experiencing intimate partner violence. I have also researched abortion resources (and the lack thereof) in the Evansville community, as well as trends in reproductive healthcare and changes in access to care in the years following Roe’s introduction.

I am finishing up a story about public art and spatial justice. This article is in response to a census conducted in Marion County (Indianapolis) that examined both the representation of artists and stories in public art, as well as the distribution of public art as it relates to regional demographics.

An installation called the Gateway (by Scott Ross) located in Haynie’s Corner art district. It’s an example of “public art” on private land. Photo taken by Jennifer Crystal.

Another fun project I’m working on is a feature on a women-run tattoo parlor and sexism within the tattoo industry, as well as activism in the workplace. You can find my in-depth look at fireworks, which I discussed in my last blog post, here.  

The world of work stands in contrast to university life. Oddly, I have found college classrooms to be more collaborative than the workplace. People go into work intent on completing their jobs, jobs that in my line of work are often independent of other journalists. However, both the workplace and university are excellent breeding grounds for new thoughts and ideas and both cater well to learning.

While at my internship, I have developed new skills and built upon old skills. I have gotten better at finding information quickly and have improved on condensing my writing in order to fit tight word limits. I have also learned about what research is important for the reader and what research is just important to me (ie: what is fluff that I should leave out). 

As I reach the midpoint of my internship, I have begun to reflect on what I hope to take away from my time at the Courier & Press. I certainly want to bring back what I have learned to the Justice newspaper where I serve as Editor-In-Chief.

Since finishing my term as news editor, I have really wanted to broaden our resources for investigative reporting. This has been a priority that I for one reason or another never really got around to, but after working at a newspaper for over a month, I am reminded of the importance of investigative reporting. I truly believe that our hard-hitting reporting, local context, and dedicated reporters are what draw our readers and subscribers to the Courier & Press. The turnover in this industry is intense, and every day, more and more local news organizations fade into oblivion. However, I believe that our investment in strong, local news is the reason for our continual relevancy. 

Post 1 — A heat wave, fireworks, and the journalistic dilemma

A gentle hum escapes the AC as it labors away on this particularly humid, June day. The flowers and plants droop in the sweltering heat, but my building sits proud and tall, nearly towering (fine, slightly hovering) over the neighboring houses and businesses. Such was my introduction to the Evansville Courier & Press. Inside you will find a collection of hardworking men and women, dedicated to uncovering the truth within their community. Keys click and clack – everyone is working away. 

Courier & Press logo – Image Courtesy of the Evansville Courier & Press

Since beginning my internship 2 weeks ago, I have written 3 stories and learned so much. The first was a compilation of resources on how to best escape the heat wave we were experiencing. I next wrote a story about where to see fireworks in the Evansville area. I am now polishing off a longer story about the more sinister side of fireworks (impacts on veterans, animals, and the environment) and possible solutions. I really love the approach my internship has taken in having me dive right into my work. This has really forced me to familiarize myself with the community and has also forced me to step outside of my comfort zone. My coworkers have been incredibly helpful and have answered any and all of my questions as they arise, but I have mostly been on assignments on my own which has been a really valuable experience. For my deep dive on fireworks, I have probably called at least 30 local businesses and spoken with various important institutions in the community (such as the fire department). The joy I get when introducing myself on the phone “this is Jen Crystal with the Courier Press” or from pulling out my access card to go to my desk and computer is truly unmatched. 

This internship has reinforced for me the importance of local journalism and has magnified the work these people do every day. It has also surfaced questions that I will continue to ponder as my work continues. We all watched as the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was overturned this past week. As a woman, as a student, and as a journalist I was horrified. We are now faced with the momentous task of covering the public outcry (and rejoicing), stomaching our own emotions related to this historical moment. Enter the journalistic dilemma – how do we report on these highly important issues without allowing our own bias to seep into our writing and hurt our credibility? This is certainly something I am still navigating, for in historic moments such as these it is difficult to remain quiet, but I trust that my experienced colleagues will guide me through this and lead by example. 

As I stated in my WOW application, I hope to continue to learn about the inner workings of a newsroom as I continue on in my internship. I think this first-hand experience and institutional knowledge will immensely benefit me in my journalism classes going forward. I also want to improve my writing skills in order to further my journalistic prospects post-college. I am interested in pursuing either journalism or social work professionally. Even if I go the social work route, I think that the journalism skills I will continue to develop during this internship—concise writing, communication skills, research and fact-checking techniques, and more—will be incredibly valuable in any field, especially social work.