Summer Internships Give Insights into Minority Communities

New deadline announced for spring semester

Artvoice and OC Weekly gained valuable insights into their minority communities through the eyes and ears of the first two AAN Diversity Internship grant recipients, their editors say.

The program was instituted by the association this year to help alternative weeklies hire and train top-quality minority journalists.

Christopher Winfield, a Buffalo native, was the Artvoice intern, and Vu Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American journalism student at Cal State Fullerton, was OC Weekly’s.

Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly reports that Winfield, a graduate of Howard University in Washington, left the internship position after about two months to take a job with the City of Buffalo. During his tenure with Artvoice, Winfield produced several good pieces for the newspaper. His duties included a weekly column covering City Hall, research and occasional feature assignments.

“We couldn’t have had him for even the short time we had him without [the grant,]” Kelly says. Winfield gave Artvoice valuable inroads into the African-American community. “We made some contacts in that community who might become contributors,” Kelly says.

Nguyen was “absolutely wonderful, and is staying on to do freelance work,” Will Swaim, editor of OC Weekly, reports. Before the internship, Nguyen had already contributed award-winning freelance articles to OC Weekly from Little Saigon, the largest Vietnamese community outside Vietnam.

During his internship, Nguyen contributed four investigative pieces of about 1,000 words each, including one from the Latino barrio, and his journalistic skills improved, Swaim says.

“There’s no question he’ll stay in journalism, maybe even in alternative journalism,” Swaim says. Without the AAN grant, OC Weekly “had no money anywhere to hire him,” Swaim says.

Nguyen, who is 26 and finishing up his undergraduate degree at Cal State Fullerton, went from a fair writer with good reporting skills to a good writer with superior investigative skills over the summer, Swaim says.

The deadline to apply for spring semester grants is October 26. Letters, along with a summary of the grant program rules and an application form, were mailed to AAN editors and publishers September 6. Spring semester grant recipients will be announced in November.

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