The Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism honors the life and career of Charles Snowden, a longtime editor at the Oregon Journal and The Oregonian. Charlie Snowden, who retired in 1986 and passed away in 1997, had a great passion for good writing, history, and the practice of ethical journalism. He is remembered not only as a top-notch editor but also as a mentor for many young journalists. In his memory, the Snowden family established an endowment for the program at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. The endowment has funded more than 130 internships for students since 1998.
Since 1998, the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism has created unique internship opportunities for Oregon students, integrating on-the-job experience with training in journalism ethics.
In paid, ten-week placements, students work side-by-side with professionals, practicing the essential skills required to provide news and information to their communities. Reporter and photographer interns cover police, city hall, and schools, and develop feature packages on local personalities, regional heritage, entertainment, and the arts. Editing interns staff copy desks—checking facts, writing headlines and cutlines, and designing pages and spreads. Multimedia interns record and edit video and audio clips and assist with production of larger projects.
In administering the Snowden program, faculty and staff members from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication work closely with media outlets recognized for excellence in covering their communities and known for their dedication to mentoring new journalists. Each participating media outlet pays half the intern’s stipend. The endowment covers all remaining costs.
2013 Snowden Media Partners:
Learning on the job
The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication works closely with students and editors to ensure an outstanding learning experience. Students selected for the program attend a daylong pre-internship seminar in the spring, and the Snowden internship coordinator visits with interns on-site during the summer. All interns receive a handbook containing advice from Snowden editors and former Snowden interns.
Emphasis on Ethics
Since 2005, Snowden interns have benefited from a pioneering journalism ethics training program that David Risser of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) Education for Journalism Committee says “may be worth considering for replication across the country.” Prior to their summer jobs, interns learn several ethics decision-making models based on a workbook created by UO professor Tom Bivins, the John L. Hulteng Chair in Media Ethics and Responsibility at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Then, while working for their community newspapers, they discuss weekly case studies with newsroom staff members and editors, and arrive at a course of action.
Snowden interns are selected for their potential for successful media careers based on their journalistic experience, commitment to ethics, passion for journalism, and academic performance. The program is open to student journalists at all Oregon colleges and universities.
The future is bright
The experience pays off. Snowden interns have landed jobs at top media outlets throughout the country (and the world), including The Associated Press, The Oregonian (Portland), Chicago magazine, Statesman Journal (Salem), the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Times, The Register-Guard (Eugene), the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Virginia), and The Prague Post (Czech Republic).
Snowden media partnerships often hire their interns as full-time reporters, photographers, and editors.
Interesting Career Tracks:
Tim Akimoff (Snowden ’05, Statesman Journal) began reporting for The Oregonian and Statesman Journal. In 2007 he accepted the online editor post for the Missoulian in Missoula, Montana.
Meghann Cuniff (Snowden ’05, The Bulletin), when still an intern reporter, won an award for breaking news in the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association (ONPA) Better Newspapers Contest. She now reports on Idaho education for The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington).
Katy Gagnon (Snowden ’06, Herald and News) earned the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) 2006 national award for in-depth reporting as an Oregon Daily Emerald staff writer at the UO. Immediately after her Snowden experience, Katy moved to Pennsylvania for a six-month internship with Men’s Health magazine, then to New York in 2007 as a quality control editor for Martha Stewart Living.
Jonathan House (Snowden ’02, The Bulletin), also interned with The Daily Herald in Chicago, gained experience with the Beacon News (Aurora, Illinois), the Beaverton Valley Times, and The Times (Tigard and Tualatin). He is now a photojournalist with the Portland Tribune.
Tehra Peace (Snowden ’03, The Daily Astorian), a science editor for The Daily Barometer and news director at the OSU campus radio station, worked as a writer for Alling Henning Associates in Vancouver, Washington, from 2004 to 2007, and is now a marketing communications specialist for Columbia Credit Union.
Allison Pyburn (Snowden ’02, Statesman Journal), who earned the SPJ First Freedom Award while editor of The Daily Barometer at OSU, has reported for Alert Global Media, Inc., Miami; Royal Media Group, New York; and SourceMedia, Inc., New York and Los Angeles, and is now a senior reporter for Debtwire in New York, covering the subprime mortgage sector, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), and derivatives.
Katie Willson (Snowden ’03, McMinnville News-Register) also interned at the West Lane News and Tri-County News. As a reporter at the News Register, she won the SPJ’s Bob Chandler Rookie of the Year Award in 2005 and the Portland State University Foundation’s Bruce Baer Award for investigative reporting, also in 2005. She worked for the Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal’s capital bureau in 2006, and in 2007 accepted an investigative reporting internship at American University in Washington, D.C.
The Snowden Experience
“On a daily basis I was challenged with a number of tasks that strengthened my ability as a reporter and writer.”
“It is through the tales of common experiences relayed by journalists that healthy, longstanding community connections are forged, and, in my short time in such a capacity, I felt the power and responsibility that comes with working within the public realm.”
“I knew that my internship would be exciting, but I didn’t expect to be working on a major breaking news story my first day. I spent ten hours in the field with a seasoned reporter getting to see firsthand what it’s like to work with the police, search-and-rescue agencies, and a worried family.”
“I’ll carry the lessons I learned during the ethics component throughout my career in journalism. It’s important for every journalist to study ethics and this program is a fantastic way to introduce novice journalists to ethical practices and codes in the real world of journalism.”
“One undoubtedly important lesson I learned while working at The News-Review is that no story is unimportant. Every article I wrote, including one about a squirrel living under a sidewalk and one about a missing wedding ring found at a car wash, mattered to my sources and, quite often, to the public at large. Often my smallest stories garnered the most positive response.”
“One of the stories I wrote while at the Statesman Journal was about a shuttle service for veterans, taking patients from Salem to the VA hospital in Portland. The shuttle was losing volunteer drivers and was in danger of shutting down. But after the article appeared, 40 people volunteered as drivers, keeping the program open. The experience taught me that a newspaper can be an active citizen in the community, that accurate information can help people live their lives.”
“This program has been the pinnacle of my internship experiences. I had yet to work for a daily newspaper where I was constantly interacting with so many people on the staff and in the community. Working as a Snowden intern has given me the freedom to pursue my interests of photojournalism while fitting in with a news team to create an amazing paper each week.”
“The Snowden family, with confidence and generosity, allows students to experience community and civic journalism at its best in Oregon.” —Viktoria Putintsev, Snowden ’03 “Without my experience as a Snowden intern, I’d be blind to many realities within a ‘real’ newsroom.”
"Throughout our experience with the Snowden internship program, we’ve been impressed with the level of quality and training evidenced by these students. It’s a wonderful opportunity for all concerned."
"The Snowden program is a big hit with me. I don't know who benefits most, the kids or the papers. I suspect it's about even."
"I got paid. Paid! I don't have an obsession with money, but being paid to do nothing but journalism for a summer made me feel very confident about my career path."
"In the midst of the worst economic recession in recent U.S. history, my Snowden internship at The Bulletin led me to my first job in Sonora, Calif. I wouldn't be employed right now if it weren't for the Snowden internship program.
"Being a Snowden intern prepared me for the real world. My editors at The Bulletin treated me more like an actual employee than an intern. They expected on me to write more stories in clutch situations—such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks—and you can't get that type of real-world experience in the classroom.
"Including the Snowden, I completed four internships before landing my first job. And I must say, my writing improved more while I was a Snowden intern than it did during any other program. My only regret about the Snowden internship program is that I didn't experience it sooner.
"I'd recommend the Snowden internship program to any aspiring journalist. The skills I learned, the people I met and the experiences I endured helped me land my first job in the midst of the worst economic recession in recent U.S. history. I wouldn't be employed right now if it weren't for the Snowden internship program."
"Throughout our experience with the Snowden internship program, we've been impressed with the level of quality and training evidenced by these students. It's a wonderful opportunity for all concerned."
"Every year the quality of our Snowden interns continues to grow. We make our interns part of the team and don't shy away from turning them loose on big stories. And every time, they hit home runs. Snowden is the best journalism internship program I've been associated with. "
"As soon as they get used to the controlled chaos of a newsroom, we set our Snowdens loose in the community, treating them equal to staff reporters. That means they may cover a car wreck up the McKenzie Valley, an "Iron Man" croquet tournament, or the guy down the street who grew "giant" tomatoes, as our 2001 Snowden intern Mason West discovered. Our interns aren't on board to straighten newspaper stacks or rewrite press releases. They are working journalists learning not only the politics of a community, but the inner politics of a newsroom. Past Snowden interns remain our friends, colleagues and cohorts — and every once in a while, such as Holly Scholz (Snowden '99) — become our coworkers."
"A fantastic experience. Snowden is a great chance to see and experience professional journalism at its best."
"The Snowden family, with confidence and generosity, allows students to experience community and civic journalism at its best in Oregon."
"The most valuable lessons I’ve learned from the Bend Bulletin photo staff were the intangibles of photojournalism that are better understood and grasped in the field versus the classroom ... I learned the ‘small things’ that can make the difference, such as how to cut through the red tape quickly when officials won’t let you shoot from where you want at sport events, or how to conduct yourself in serious circumstances. The opportunities that the Snowden program have provided are invaluable."