Honing Reporting Skills on Difficult Topics

By Dean’s Intern Ben Morse at Current

Ben MorsePitching a new story idea is always hard. It has to be timely, interesting, and relevant to the readership. Aside from writing pieces for my internship at Current.org, the hardest thing I do as an editorial intern is developing pitches that my editors will find pertinent. One story I successfully pitched to my editors was also the hardest story I’ve ever had to write.

I read that the NPR podcast Embedded had sued Maryland for the right to play audio from the trial of the Capital Gazette mass shooter in their series on the tragedy and won. I didn’t know much about the subject, but it was an important story, so I decided to pitch it to my editors at Current, and they accepted it. The story was technically and emotionally difficult. I had to research Maryland law, read court documents and past precedents¾ which required learning how to use the byzantine court documents collection service PACER¾ interview the hosts of Embedded, interview legal experts, and talk to people who had worked for the Capital and who had been featured in the podcast. It was taxing to complete the piece, but looking at it now, it’s one of my best stories as a journalist.

I am new to covering public media, Current’s main focus, but I have learned so much after two months in my internship. I have reported on stories about the live music show Mountain Stage in West Virginia and PBS NewsHour’s new Communities Initiative,  and interning at Current has helped me hone my reporting skills when covering difficult subjects that require lots of explanation and background information.  My internship at Current has given me an excellent opportunity to cover important stories, and it also helped me as a writer and aspiring journalist.