On the fourth floor of Melville Library, there are four small desks. Each holds a computer and something much more interesting — a sound board, laden with dozens of tiny dials, buttons and inputs for audio equipment. These desks are workstations for a steady stream of student interns at the Long Island Bureau of WSHU, a regional NPR affiliate station.
From these desks, journalism and mass communication students conduct and record interviews, edit audio, and file stories to air on the radio waves and on the WSHU website. The internship opportunity is one of the most in-demand slots for School of Communication and Journalism (SoCJ) students, nearly 30 of whom have completed the internship since the station moved onto campus in 2020.
“Many of our students are first-generation and bear much of the burden of the cost of their education. Taking time away from their other obligations for internships can be quite challenging,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the SoCJ and executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “That this intensely rewarding experience is available merely steps from their classrooms makes such professional opportunities more equitable and accessible. I’m so proud of our relationship with WSHU, and of our students for taking advantage of all that it offers.”
The WSHU internship gives students in-depth media experience. They travel around Long Island to cover stories and conduct interviews, come back to the station to edit their stories, and record themselves in the WSHU soundproof audio booth, also located on the fourth floor of Melville Library, just down the hall from the SoCJ faculty and dean’s offices.
“When I started the internship, I was nervous because I had no experience in radio. The internship taught me to be fearless while I’m out in the field; being uncomfortable made me a better journalist,” said Sara McGiff, a journalism major. “I loved attending the Tesla Laboratory fire press conference. I was there alongside New York’s elite journalists like Sheri Einhorn from Newsday and Jennifer McLogan from CBS News. I was in the field, I was a journalist, and I had a duty to the story I was writing with the same vigor I witnessed in them. That was the moment I realized how much I loved the field and how desperately I wanted to be there amongst the greats.”
The internship offers the best of both worlds for SoCJ students: an off-campus internship that often allows them to work on campus, circumventing potential transportation challenges. It also gives students bylines, production experience, and, for those interested, a chance to work on website design and development.
“The WSHU-Stony Brook internship program has become a model of how to give students an opportunity to build on what they learn in the classroom and to produce work for a highly regarded NPR station,” said Terry Sheridan, WSHU senior director of news and education, interim co-station manager, and journalism instructor. “They are doing real journalism. They are not doing administrative or ‘busy’ work. We view the program as our secret weapon.”
WSHU’s Long Island bureau has been located next door to the SoCJ on Stony Brook’s campus since February 2020. Though the station has always offered internships, its prime location has helped to make it a destination for Stony Brook students.
“We make sure that our student interns are contributing from day one; just this semester, I brought some interns on their first day at the station to Nassau County to cover part of the George Santos investigation,” said JD Allen, WSHU managing editor and journalism instructor. “I’m proud to say that it pays off; our interns regularly make meaningful contributions to some of the award-winning pieces of journalism that come out of our station.”
In recent years, SoCJ students have contributed to both seasons of the award-winning, nationally syndicated podcast Higher Ground and the Peabody-nominated podcast Still Newtown. Student reporting about the legacy on slavery on Long Island was featured on the station and won a national student Edward R. Murrow Award.
“When I ended the internship, I felt like I could stand on my own two feet, and that the dream I had since I was a teenager could come to fruition,” McGiff said. “WSHU Public Radio’s office may be inside Stony Brook University’s walls, but it’s a real news outlet with high expectations for its interns. I came out ten times the journalist I was when I first took a seat at the desk.”