The State Government Communication program (COM 465) operates within today’s shifting communications ecosystem and, as is the case with so many contemporary communications projects, COM 465 is now rapidly evolving. For more than 40 years, the program placed students at traditional journalism outlets to cover public policy and the legislative process from the state Capitol in Olympia. Beginning this year, the new Journalism and Public Interest Communication program seeks to place students at evidence-based and data-driven outlets and organizations across a wider spectrum of the journalism-communication space—for now, at newspapers and news websites, as well as at the communication shops of government agencies.
Note: This class was formerly known as Legislative Reporting, and will continue to take place in Olympia during winter quarters.
Please contact Program Director John Tomasic with questions: email@example.com
Deadline to apply for the 2021 program is Monday, October 12.
Possible impacts of COVID-19
The work of transitioning the program this year, however, has been complicated as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to reshape everyday life, and is very likely to significantly affect the 2021 legislative session, forcing lawmakers and communications people of all sorts to work remotely—to attend committee hearings and floor votes from their computer screens, to debate bills and report on those debates in digital space, to host or attend video or audio town halls, and to rely more heavily than ever on legislative websites and databases.
In winter quarter 2020, as in past winter quarters, COM 465 will seek to provide immersive experiences by placing students in paid full-time journalism-communications jobs. Program students gain irreplaceable training in public affairs by working alongside professionals who report on and participate in public policy formulation and state government operations. Program students this year may well perform their work from their home or campus living spaces. Students should expect that logistics around lawmaking and university instruction will continue to evolve to meet shifting public health policies. The Department of Communication and Program Coordinator John Tomasic are committed to keeping students well-informed on developments and prepared to participate fully in the program.
Long-term benefits for Olympia alumni
Recent COM 465 alumni have gone on to report for daily news outlets that include The Seattle Times, Associated Press, Tacoma News Tribune, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Washington Post, Puget Sound Business Journal, NBC and international outlets. Others have become staffers with political parties and politicians at all levels of government. Still others work in nonpartisan government offices. Alumni from the more distant past work at all levels of reporting and management in news outlets around the state, country, and world.
Sample work from recent UW Olympia legislative interns: Claudia Yaw, Shauna Sowersby, Leona Vaughn, Jake Goldstein-Street, Josh Kelety, Agatha Pacheco Flores, Max Wasserman, Walker Orenstein, Cooper Inveen, Izumi Hansen, Grace Swanson, Enrique Perez de la Rosa, Starla Sampaco
Who should apply?
Students who have completed most of the UW Journalism and Public Interest Communication sequence, students who report for The Daily, and/or students with freelance or internship experience are encouraged to apply. Published written, audio or video clips are an important part of the application process.
Where might you work?
Students chosen for this capstone experience have been assigned to cover the Washington Legislature for outlets of all kinds. After mandatory training with UW faculty and other news, government and communications professionals, students work directly with an editor or communications director and are supported by Program Director John Tomasic. In the recent past, interns have been placed at The Seattle Times, Crosscut, Northwest News Network, The News Tribune and The (UW) Daily. A premier UW Olympia partner is the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (WNPA). Interns for the WNPA report for a network of 110 community news outlets around the state. We are working to expand this list to communication teams within state government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Students leave the program with a portfolio of published work and professional experience, a deeper understanding of government agencies and processes, and a network of professional contacts inside and outside the journalism-communications industry.
Applicants must commit to working full time winter quarter. Again, because of the pandemic, the 2021 program will likely be held remotely, not in person in Olympia. The program stipend typically has worked out to about $300 per week for 10 weeks. If participants end up working remotely this year, the stipend will be slightly reduced.
Equipment and credits
If campus and the media equipment room are open, students have access to laptops, cameras, and recorders during their internships paid for by the student technology fee. Students can earn 12 credits for this State Government Communication class.
To apply, please email all materials listed below in a single PDF to John Tomasic, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A 1-2 page letter of application that outlines career goals, journalism training and any other relevant public-interest communication experience.
- Links to four published clips. May be for any regularly publishing news outlet. Send only clips fully reported and written by the applicant. Co-bylined stories will be considered, but are less desirable for the evaluation process.
- Be sure any professionally used social media accounts appear on your resume.
- Academic transcript (unofficial is fine).
- List of journalism classes taken, including instructor’s name.
- Names and contact information for two references who can speak about your reporting and writing abilities. It’s best if one is an academic contact and the other a professional contact.
- Please note: Finalists will be interviewed by the program coordinator and may be asked to complete a writing test.