Jeff Myers | A Capitol Investment
Like most University of Idaho seniors, Journalism and Mass Media (JAMM) major Jeff Myers has been looking forward to starting post-graduation life.
“I had been alternating between retail sector jobs and college classes since 2006, the year I graduated from high school, and was ready to be done with the ramp up to my career.”
So when JAMM professor Glenn Mosley mentioned an internship opportunity at the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research, he knew it would be the perfect way to leap off that “ramp” and land into real world reporting at the Idaho State Legislature.
“Days vary pretty vastly depending on dockets and events. Generally though I start the day with committee meetings. . . I set up interviews, write articles and do research on subjects I am covering. I may also conduct interviews with Senators and Representatives.”
Myers explains that just like a professional state Capitol reporter, he covers a beat.
“I tend to focus on transportation, education and agriculture as those are high profile issues relevant to the readership of publications I am submitting to.”
The internship is supervised by Mosley. Myers files stories with Idaho Public Radio, JAMM’s professional news service, and he works with the editors of the Owyhee Avalanche, Idaho County Free Press, Bonner County Daily Bee, the Power County Press and Aberdeen Times to establish what topics to cover. However, he is still able to follow his own interests and instincts.
“Glenn has also given me latitude to take on stories of opportunity as they arise so whenever I am at the Capitol I try to keep an eye out for special events such as, Add the Words and National School Choice Day.”
One of the many daily surprises, Myers says, is getting to know the legislators.
“It feels silly to say but what struck me right in the first week was how human and relatable the legislators are. . . . I probably should have expected the reality, that they are just people with a variety of ideas gathered together in a building to discuss those ideas, but somehow it felt strange to speak with them one on one, to get a more human glimpse of them.”
Myers adds that although he’s getting the up close and personal experience he craved, he uses the practical knowledge gained in the classroom every day.
“Even the most basic elements taught in Journalism 101 filter through all the topics I write about. Lessons learned in Reporting about writing style and how to conduct and direct an interview guide the construction of my articles throughout their development. . . . The Media Ethics course gave me a solid ideological foundation for professionally conducting myself as a journalist in the real world. . . . While nothing I've done at the University of Idaho was quite like covering the Idaho Legislature, knowing that I've done this kind of work…gives me the confidence to feel I can survive as a guppy in a very big pond.”
Myers’ McClure Center internship, which is partly supported through a donation by Ronald Graves and Diane Plastino-Graves, is perfect example of a “win-win" says Center director, Priscilla Salant.
“The primary goal of our work with interns is to give them hands-on experience that makes them job ready the day they graduate. Jeff wants work experience, the papers want more legislative coverage, and the electorate will be better informed. What could be better?”
Myers, a native of Middleton, Idaho, agrees and hopes to use this resume building experience to start his career in the Boise area.
“I don't have much preference on format (print, radio, TV, online) just whatever I can get to start,” he says.
Given Myers’ positive experience, Salant is confident the McClure Center will continue to build on its success.
“This is a pilot project for us. Next year we hope to have at least two interns. We’re learning as we go and want this to be right for Idaho.”
The James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research is named for an iconic United States Senator and his esteemed wife, Louise. Together, they championed the causes of Idaho, from Moscow to Boise to Washington, for four decades. Senator McClure earned the respect of his colleagues for his engagement in thoughtful civil dialogue, his pursuit and promotion of bi-partisan collaboration, and his long commitment to sound public policy.