Reporting for The Durango Herald

By Dean’s Intern Mariam Baksh at The Durango Herald


Mariam in Durango, Colorado

The internship at The Durango Herald came with the promise of bylines, and that’s just what my portfolio lacked. What I’ve learned since starting is that I needed the lessons that came with each of those bylines just as much as I need the bylines themselves.

I am humbled and empowered by the experience of reporting to the Herald from D.C. Durangoans are trusting me to deliver them news from the capital.

The paper helped me realize this by flying me out to the city for a few days to meet the newsroom and get a sense of the federal issues that would be relevant to the community. The trip gave me a good sense of what I should be on the look out for.

Four weeks later, I’ve had eight bylines writing on the environment, campaign finance reform, and Native American foster care and education. I look forward to tracking the Colorado delegation on these issues and others that affect Durangoans.

My editors have given me the freedom to explore story ideas, but also an understanding of the structure that comes from working for a daily newsroom –I had mostly worked on longer-term projects through the Investigative Reporting Workshop and the Washington Post. I also work closely with the paper’s Denver correspondent Peter Marcus, who has been a policy reporter for several years and shares his tips with me.

I recently attended the annual conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors in Philadelphia. In the showcase panel, Editor-in-chief of the Marshall Project Bill Keller noted that while partnering with publications like Vice News is a great way to get traffic, the biggest impact from his organization’s work still comes from partnering with analog newspapers, because that’s what decision-makers read. I’ve always had an academic appreciation for community journalism, but now I’m actually contributing to that tradition and it feels great.

Durango might be a small part of the country, but the issues affecting it are vast and complicated. With every story I learn something new, and every time I learn something I find there’s something else to learn. It can be kind of stressful, but it’s also how I know I’ll never get bored being a reporter.