Fifth year journalism student Maggie Scales recently completed a co-op with The Boston Globe. As a metro co-op, she covered a wide variety of topics. CAMD had the chance to chat with Scales about her co-op and how her classes prepared her for the experience.
How did your classes at Northeastern prepare you for your co-op?
I took intermediate reporting and science writing with professor Jeff Howe
and the way he taught those classes greatly set me up for this co-op. In those classes, Jeff would lead us in mock-pitch meetings at the beginning of every class, where all of the students had to pitch story ideas to him and he would help us workshop and develop them. That exercise really helped me refine my understanding of what is newsworthy and how to pitch ideas to an editor. And in my co-op, I pitched story ideas to my editor several times each week, so practicing how to do that was extremely helpful.
Having been a metro reporter during my co-op at the Boston Globe, I wrote and report on topics that weren’t always happy and light, especially during the fall 2023 cycle. For example, I did a lot of reporting relating to the war in Gaza and how Massachusetts families and communities have been impacted by it. In moments where I was reporting on very sensitive topics such as talking to locals whose families were stuck in Gaza, I really had to use the skills that I learned in my ethics and issues in journalism class with professor Jonathan Kaufman. From him, I learned how to conduct those interviews sensitively and keep a good rapport with sources.
What were you most surprised by during your time with the Globe?
I was most surprised by the amount of trust that my editors and fellow reporters had in me. I was really thrown into the deep end from my first day at this co-op and I think it was the best way for me to learn and get adequate practice reporting and writing. I made mistakes along the way but my editors helped me learn from them and by the end of my co-op, I ultimately became, tenfold, a better reporter than I was when I began, and that is all because my editors trusted me.
What lessons from your co-op will you take with you into your final semester and beyond?
At the Globe, I learned the importance of speaking up and asking questions, even if you may feel like your question is trivial or stupid. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Especially when you are a reporter. In this next semester, I am going to be freelancing a lot outside of class and I plan on taking that lesson with me by asking all of the questions — the obvious questions, the tough questions, and the uncomfortable questions. That way, I will have all of the tools and understanding to do the best job I can do as a student and as a freelance reporter.