2013 Snowden Internship participants

Tommy Pittenger, ’14, a multimedia intern working for The [Eugene] Register Guard, spent his first day on the job at Winco foods.

“I got sent out to Winco because Peter DeFazio was there, showing how much food you can really buy with a week’s worth of welfare money,” Pittenger said. “There were all these other news stations there. I interviewed DeFazio, filmed, and headed back and wrote the story.”

Pittenger is one of 16 Snowden interns who were chosen to work side-by-side with professionals at media outlets throughout Oregon.

The program, which honors the life and career of Charles Snowden, a longtime editor at the Oregon Journal and The Oregonian, provides paid, ten-week placements where students get real world training in the essential skills required to provide news and information to their communities.

To prepare for the challenges of immediately joining a news staff, Snowden interns take part in a preparatory journalism ethics-training program. Once this year’s interns completed the program, the students followed in the footsteps of the more than 130 students who have taken part in the program statewide since 1998.

Along with fellow Snowden interns at the Register Guard, Sam Stites and Tess Freeman, Pittenger was quickly incorporated into the newsroom, testing the limits of his skills.

“I was expecting to only do videos, so to have to write stories was actually pretty challenging,” Pittenger said. “I thought I would be going out and filming with a reporter, but it’s kind of a one-stop shop.”

Stites’ immersion in the newsroom was just as complete — including the chance to learn from the experienced professionals — with an expectation that he would meet the standards of any other reporter at the paper.

“No one is trying to hold my hand,” Stites said. “I enjoy independence in my reporting, but I also like being able to ask for help when I need it.”

Freeman’s experience at that the photo desk was no different.

“I was definitely nervous because I was among people who know exactly what to do. But the great thing about internships is that people know you’re there to learn,” Freeman said.

The program’s investment in real-world learning has launched the careers of many of the participants. Snowden interns have gone on to hold positions at the outlets where they worked as well as The Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, The Oregonian, and even The Prague Post in the Czech Republic.

“I have watched this program kick start the careers of many friends and respected colleagues,” said Stites, who will take over the reins of the Oregon Daily Emerald when he returns to campus in the fall. “It feels like I am perpetuating a legacy.”

Snowden Interns:

University of Oregon:

  • Branden Anderson — The [Bend] Bulletin
  • Amanda Barker — The [Medford] Mail Tribune
  • Tess Freeman — The [Eugene] Register Guard
  • Lacey Jarrell — Capital Press
  • Riley Stevenson — The Outlook
  • Sam Stites — The [Eugene] Register Guard
  • Tommy Pittenger — The [Eugene] Register Guard
  • Sreang Hok — Portland Monthly Magazine
  • Hannah Doyle — Ruralite Magazine
  • Kathryn Boyd-Batstone — Oregon Public Broadcasting

From other Oregon programs:

  • Josh Dillen — Baker City Herald and La Grand Observer, Clackamas Community College
  • Andrew Kilstrom — News-Register, Oregon State University
  • Louie Opatz — The Daily Astorian, Portland State University
  • Kathleen Rohde — Portland Tribune and News-Times, Pacific University
  • Warner Strausbaugh — East Oregonian, Oregon State University
  • Kate Tracy — Herald and News, Corban University