Outgoing Devroy fellow reflects on his experience

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Nick Erickson at last year’s Ann Devroy Memorial Forum. Erickson spent two weeks in January at The Washington Post as a part of the fellowship and he will work at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this summer. Photo via UW-Eau Claire.

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post written by senior journalism student and outgoing Devroy fellow Nick Erickson.

My first day at The Post, I was introduced to Deputy Managing Editor, Tracy Grant. After a great talk with her, they put me down in the sports office, where I met Sports Editor Matt Vita for the first time. For those who don’t know me, I consider myself a well-rounded person, but sports are definitely my niche. Instead of observing, Matt and the people at the daily sports blog asked me if I wanted to contribute right away.

It was the first time I had truly seen a national media outlet operate, and it was really different.

There was somebody who had a sole job of checking social media to see the stories breaking. Then, once she found one, she’d blurt it out for someone to take, and the fact-checking and calls quickly began. Not only that, but The Post was really good at using digital journalism, things like hyperlinks, embedded tweets and videos and other multimedia, in its stories. That was a big part of what I did.

By the second day at The Post, I had already felt comfortable enough to pitch a story idea.

Since I cover the women’s basketball team for The Spectator here at UWEC, I knew I had developed a particular niche for the sport. And lo-and-behold, I found a potential idea on a player from George Washington University. The player, Jonquel Jones, had transferred from Clemson the much smaller GWU, and I wanted to know why. The editors let me take it, and by Friday, I was off and reporting.

So I made the trek to the Foggy Bottom district of D.C., where the university was located. I spent Friday afternoon observing practice and talking with Jones, her coach, a teammate and her high school coach. Saturday, I was at the game on press row so I could pinpoint every little detail about her game to give my story that much more imagery.

I spent Monday transcribing and writing my story. I carefully crafted what should go where as this publication had an audience I knew would comment if I made any type of blunder. So I left no room for error.

But also that Monday, I came into contact with National Assignment Editor Mike Hume. He is a man that really took me under his wing, and the rest of the week, we worked extensively hard on researching what types of teams get into the NCAA tournament for basketball dating back to 1999. We made calls to the NCAA and spent a great deal of time fact checking.

My big feature story on Jonquel Jones was published on my final day at The Post, and thanks to some great copy editing from David Larimer, I was able to see the difference between publishing a story for a national audience instead of a niche paper like The Spectator or a local paper like the Leader-Telegram.

I felt incredibly rewarded by my work experience, and I left knowing I accomplished everything I wanted to and more.

To read more about Nick’s experience check out the Devroy site. 
The annual Ann Devroy Memorial Forum will take place at 7 p.m. April 23 in Schofield Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. 

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