Riley Robinson is studying Journalism at Northeastern University, with minors in International Affairs and Political Science. She recently completed a four-month co-op at The Christian Science Monitor, a non-profit news organization; there, she had the opportunity to work alongside several Northeastern alumni from both graduate and undergraduate programs.
On day one, Riley discovered their unique newsroom culture. “They’re a secular newsroom, but still a branch of the Christian Science Publishing Society, so they take real pride in ethics and treating other people with respect—not just with sources while reporting, but also toward each other in the newsroom.”
“It’s very quiet, like a public library, so people can write,” she added. “But the interns all became friends and we would chat and bounce ideas off each other throughout the day.”
This co-op was heavily writing-focused; Riley worked on developing pitches, getting approval from editors, conducting interviews and research, and then reporting.
“They have a daily news podcast that comes out every evening, so some days I would co-produce that with an editor,” she added, “We put the script together and coached people reading in the booth, and sometimes I would be the one reading the news on that day’s episode.”
After Riley expressed an interest in photography and audio production, she was able to branch out into additional departments and even travel beside seasoned journalists.
“I also worked with a couple of different reporters as the photographer assigned to their stories, so I would travel with them while they did some of their reporting,” she said.
It was also a great chance to watch other journalists operate out in the field.
Riley had the opportunity to take photos in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and New York City, and even traveled as far as Toronto to follow a story on Christmas tree farms around the holidays. Taking the initiative early-on helped Riley expand her knowledge, and in the process, she discovered how much she enjoys photojournalism. Although her co-op is now complete, she is still freelancing for the Monitor’s photo department.
Riley credits her experience at The Christian Science Monitor to School of Journalism Professor Carlene Hempel.
“The first class I took with her was actually a dialogue reporting in Cuba in 2018. Then I took her J2 class where I learned to love feature writing,” she said. “Professor Hempel suggested I go for the Monitor because they do more long-form feature writing than other publications.”
Riley urges Journalism students to share their perspective as a consumer—because newsrooms are constantly trying to appeal to new and younger audiences. “People were always asking the interns questions on music or website taste, or what podcasts we like best.”
We wish you continued success Riley; thank you for sharing your co-op experience!