The Newhouse School’s magazine, news and digital journalism [MND] department continues to take steps toward increasing diversity in newsrooms by creating a partnership with Bustle Digital Group that provides internships for students from underrepresented groups and diverse backgrounds.
Eligible Newhouse students will have a chance to apply and intern at one of the digital platform’s four brands—Bustle.com, Elite Daily, Romper and The Zoe Report—in the summer of 2019. The 10-week internship is paid, and interns are paired with a mentor.
This program is the second Newhouse internship program with the goal of diversifying the journalism industry. Before Meredith Corporation bought Time Inc. in 2017, Newhouse created a summer diversity internship in partnership with Time Inc.’s brands.
The program was created by Melissa Chessher, chair of MND; Newhouse alumna Lisa Arbetter ’89, editor of Olivela and former editor-in-chief of People Stylewatch; and Newhouse alumna Cheryl Brody Franklin ’04, director of Newhouse in New York City.
Chessher began working on the program after an annual magazine benchmark trip to New York City left one of her students feeling discouraged. The student confessed to Chessher that she felt the magazine world wasn’t for her because she failed to see people like herself during the trip.
“That conversation made the lack of diversity in the industry palpable for me in a very personal way. I want students who aspire to work in journalism to feel that it is an industry that wants and needs them,” Chessher says. “Publications must reflect the world that extends beyond their offices. To do that, the staffs need to be diverse and I, as an educator, want to help with that.”
Chessher and Franklin met with Bustle in July and pitched them the idea for a summer diversity internship, which Bustle readily agreed to. Franklin has worked with Bustle extensively in various areas, including creating internship opportunities for current and former Newhouse students.
Both Chessher and Franklin hold the internship program at Bustle in high regard. “Bustle really values their interns,” Franklin says. “They get to write, pitch and submit story ideas at meetings. Every student who interns at Bustle wants to work there. People go there and stay there. It’s rare to find that.”
Ashlyn Thompson, editorial operations and human resources associate at Bustle, added that the company’s internship and fellowship programs are tailored to each candidate’s interests. “The main goal, besides making sure they have a blast with us, is making sure that they get as much out of it as they can,” Thompson says. “You get a ton of clips, you write every single day, you pitch to each of our brands and are really encouraged to dive into whatever you’re interested in.”
Thompson says the Newhouse initiative is the first internship program she has seen that’s catered specifically toward students from diverse backgrounds. Incorporating diversity is a big part of Bustle Digital Group’s mission; 70 percent of the fall internship and fellowship class came from underrepresented groups, she says.
Besides proactively recruiting interns and fellows, Bustle also seeks to hire writers from outside the New York City area. Remote part-time writers work from all over the United States to add diverse perspectives to the website’s content.
“It’s not only an interest of ours, it’s a priority,” Thompson says. “It’s the perfect opportunity to encourage people [from] underrepresented groups to apply and for us also to get other people in who maybe wouldn’t have applied in the beginning.”
Bustle looks for experience first and foremost in considering interns, followed by enthusiasm for and knowledge of the website’s content and verticals. Interested applicants should apply by submitting a résumé, portfolio and cover letter that doubles as a writing sample to Chessher in January 2019.
Chessher, Franklin and Thompson agree that the program is a step forward and hope to expand the initiative in various ways: Bustle by continuing to act as a resource and medium for writers and employees of diverse backgrounds and Newhouse by creating programs that can serve as a talent pipeline.
“We will continue to work on representation by our work in the classroom, through our events and speakers and through working to build our internship opportunities,” Chessher says. “It is my hope that we will have new ones to announce in the near future.”
Divya Murthy is a senior magazine major at the Newhouse School.