For aspiring journalists with an interest in business and finance, few publications rise higher on the dream-job list than writing for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The flagship publication of the Dow Jones & Co. media company, WSJ is America’s largest newspaper by paid circulation and has won 39 Pulitzer Prizes during its 127-year history.
It’s no surprise that WSJ internships are fiercely competitive and sought after among journalism students around the nation. As it turns out, University of Oregon (UO) School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) students are high on WSJ’s list as well.
When the media company began combing through applications for the inaugural F. James Pensiero Summer Reporting Internship, it was so impressed by two SOJC seniors that it awarded the named internship to one and opened up a second position for the other.
Emerald Editor Bazzaz wins the Pensiero internship
The F. James Pensiero Summer Reporting internship — named for UO alumnus and longtime visionary at The Wall Street Journal, Jim Pensiero ’75 — seeks students who intend to pursue a career in business or financial journalism and maybe report for the nation 21 loans. It gives preference to seniors who have held internships with other large media organizations and who have worked on student publications.
Dahlia Bazzaz fit the bill on both counts. Before she became the editor-in-chief of the Oregon Daily Emerald, she was a crime reporter and community editor for the Emerald, a Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism intern at Oregon Public Broadcasting and a reporter for the UO’s KWVA radio station.
According to Pensiero, the internship program’s namesake, the WSJ internship will likely be a significant springboard for Bazzaz’s career. “For a journalism student who gets an internship at The Wall Street Journal, it makes a huge difference,” said Pensiero, who recently retired from The WSJ after 31 years, including a recent stint as deputy managing editor and talent editor in charge of placing interns. “Not only do they make decent money for a summer job, but it’s such great experience. When students get that exposure — Wall Street Journal editing and story placement and getting some clips in The Wall Street Journal —editors at other publications pay attention to that credential.”
As the Pensiero intern, Bazzaz will be paid to spend 10 weeks working for The WSJ’s New York office. She will also receive a generous relocation stipend to help her travel to, and secure housing in, the city.
“I’m jazzed for the opportunity to work alongside editors and reporters at The Wall Street Journal — in the center of the North American media world, New York,” said Bazzaz. “As cliché as it sounds, living and working in New York City has been one of my dreams for a long time. I know it will be one of the biggest challenges I face — finding housing will be an adventure of its own — but I’m just so excited to be at the center of it all. It’s the only place I’ve been able to go where I don’t feel like a racial minority. It’s the intersection of so many different industries and lives.”
Bazzaz’s role will include generating story ideas, working closely with reporters and editors on news, writing market commentary and forward-looking features, and analyzing market data. “I’ll be reporting for the management and careers bureau on the internal news of companies — if a CEO leaves, if a company is trying out a new workflow with their employees — that sort of thing,” said Bazzaz. “I’m interested in business and financial journalism because it involves making a rather complicated industry more accessible to the public. We spend most of our time and money at or with businesses, so it’s vital as a journalist to make sure they’re held accountable.”
Another superstar student, another internship
Jonathan Bach — editor-in-chief of Ethos magazine, a former Charles Snowden Program intern, and a friend and colleague of Bazzaz — also applied for the Pensiero internship. The senior journalism major was so well qualified that the choice between him and Bazzaz wasn’t easy.
“We had to look at what the organization needed the most,” explained Pensiero. “Dahlia had a little bit more management skill and a little more digital skill, whereas Jonathan was a very fine reporter and writer. Dahlia won by a nose for the F. James Pensiero internship, but Jonathan was such an excellent candidate that we found a way to get him an internship in our Detroit news bureau.”
Bach, who hopes to become a foreign correspondent, is excited about the business journalism experience he will receive while working for The WSJ. “My beat has traditionally been international affairs, but I’ve always tried to work numbers in,” he said. “As one of my mentors said, anything can be a business story, and anything can boil down to numbers. For example, when I wrote a piece from the Ukraine, it heavily featured economics.”
The Pensiero internship is unique among large media corporations in that it is open only to seniors from state schools, such as the University of Oregon. “It’s not often that people from state schools get these types of internships,” Bazzaz said. “I remember looking at the recipients of reporting internships at big publications and noticing that almost all of them were Ivy Leaguers. That’s why the Pensiero internship is so special: It levels the playing field by offering opportunities to student journalists outside of a prestigious bubble.”
Story by Andra Brichacek
About the UO School of Journalism and Communication
The University of Oregon the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC), celebrating its centennial year in 2016, is one of the first professional journalism schools in the country and an international leader in scholarship and education in advertising, journalism, media studies and public relations. With a student enrollment of 2,200, the SOJC offers doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate degree programs that challenge students to become productive scholars, ethical communicators, critical thinkers, and responsible citizens in a global society. We foster innovative research and prepare students and professionals to navigate the terrain of an evolving media landscape.