“No one is going to give you the good stories,” my supervisor at Foreign Policy told me during my first week. “But if you want to write something, we will support you and make it happen.” By the end of my second month, I had written fifteen stories covering everything from tyrants in South Africa, Venezuela and the Philippines to protests at a Mosque in Palestine. I reported on stories about women in ISIS and English as a second language (ESL) programs for refugees in Baltimore. I spoke with the Iraqi embassy in Washington and Human Rights Watch specialists in Baghdad and I had the opportunity to go to the Pentagon and the State Department as part of the press. Interning at Foreign Policy showed me that journalism is about taking initiative, but even more important is being part of a team that is willing to take that initiative and show you how to use it.
Embargoed books were piled up on the tables and cured Polish meats and Icelandic dried fish were offered on the standing desk in the middle of Foreign Policy’s newsroom. The team is close, the comments are quick-witted and a lot of the interviews are in Russian. Each day, topics oscillated between consequential decisions to publish leaked e-mails of a State Department official to repeatedly playing the indie folk Bon Iver-esque cover of an Alex Jones rant. The Foreign Policy office is filled with intellectual, interested, and informed people; and that knowledge is used both for articulating the news, and finding the humor in everyday twitter discoveries.
Foreign Policy doesn’t attempt to break the news, but rather it tries to add value to each story — to find an angle that will widen the reader's understanding of an issue. From observing conversations during the day to going out for drinks with the staff at night, they adopted me into the culture of the office and gave me the opportunity to absorb how and why they make each decision.
Every morning on my walk to work, Michael Barbaro’s endearingly robotic voice told me the world’s most important news on the New York Times Daily podcast. He interviews articulate experts and asks simple questions that invite complex answers. The podcast renewed in me the importance of journalism. As the reality and the immediacy of these issues surrounded me, I was reminded that journalism, even in it’s darker and less trusted days, gets to discover one part of the world and show it to the other. My summer as an ASME intern not only gave me more opportunities than I could ever have imagined, but it also solidified the purpose I feel in pursuing journalism.
Jesse Chase-Lubitz is studying History and Evolutionary Biology at Columbia University in New York City. She is a writer and lead story editor at the Eye, the official magazine of the Columbia Daily Spectator. Prior to that, she worked as a professional dancer in Chicago and Austin.