Advance Local is one of the largest media groups in the United States, reaching over 52 million people per month. In 2021, the media group and the Newhouse School established the Advance Local Fellows program, which allows journalists to work at an Advance publication while earning a master’s degree in communications—paid for by the company—through Newhouse’s online program. The 15-month program is an incredible opportunity for the fellows, who find themselves supported by two communications powerhouses. Below, three fellows share their stories.
By Olivia Jackson
Attending Howard University in Washington D.C., Nyah Marshall was surrounded by political reporting. The Advance Local fellow studied journalism with a minor in African American studies while working in Howard’s newsroom. As a student reporter she covered many stories, including Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination at the White House. These experiences solidified her passion for storytelling and her dream of being a political reporter.
Marshall graduated last May, after only three years. She needed time to figure out her future, which lead to discovering the Advance Local Fellows program at the Newhouse School.
“It’s an amazing program,” she says. “When I found it, I was shocked that there was a master’s program where I could get experience in a newsroom, while getting paid. It seemed unreal.”
While earning her degree, Marshall works at nj.com on the breaking news team. Through her job, she’s understanding the significance of local reporting.
“I have been slowly but surely learning that local news is just so important,” she says. “There are places in our nation that lack access to local newsrooms. I just think the fellowship as a whole has shown me the importance of news, as well as it being a diversity fellowship and being that voice for people that may not have been represented in the newsroom before.”
Marshall’s courses, especially Multimedia Storytelling and Digital Communications, align with her job at nj.com and allow her to be a full-time reporter.
“With the nature of news, you really don’t know what you will get in a day,” she says. “In one of my first news assignments, a plane had crashed 20 minutes away from me and they had me go out on site and report.”
Marshall is excited about all the opportunities this fellowship provides, as well as the chance to continue to further her industry knowledge.
“I think because I’m getting such a wide range of experience while learning about new innovations within communications, I will have a better grasp of what’s actually out there. Because there is just so much you can do within communications.”
Olivia Jackson is a sophomore public relations major at the Newhouse School.
By Griffin Uribe Brown
Fuad Shalhout is a reporter in Flint, Michigan, a student in Newhouse’s online master’s program specializing in journalism innovation and an Advance Local fellow.
He accepted the program’s offer due to the unique educational opportunity and the improvements it would bring to his skillset and career as a whole.
“It was an opportunity I had to jump at,” Shalhout says.
With the first semester over, Shalhout—who works for mlive.com—reflects on his new skills in camera work, expanded PR and advertising knowledge and progressive journalism skills.
“I’ve been able to learn how to take and edit film, an area that I was hoping to pick up on coming into the program,” he says. “It’s definitely something I’m going to apply to my current job moving forward.”
He has also written a multitude of stories during his time in Flint, including one about a former prison inmate who became an entrepreneur following his release, and another about a local farmer who once taught actor Terry Crews.
Shalhout looks forward to making “lifelong connections” at the program’s upcoming immersion trips to Denver, Nashville and the Syracuse University campus. Additionally, Shalhout has a long-term goal to teach and hopes the program continues to help advance his career.
“I looked at it as a golden opportunity to learn new skills through this program, broaden my skill set and make me a little bit more marketable as a journalist.”
Griffin Uribe Brown is a first-year student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.
By Nico Horning
Shaina McLawrence is now in her second semester in the Advance Local Fellows program. The Georgia State University alumna is a reporter for the Staten Island Advance in New York and is eager to learn about innovation in journalism.
“Ever since applying for [the Staten Island Advance], I fell in love with the idea of the innovative journalism track,” she says.
Being a graduate student at Newhouse has also opened her eyes to different concepts, such as media consolidation.
“Putting a vocabulary term to a lot of the things that we might notice such as trends in today’s society is so valuable,” she says.
Last semester, McLawrence was in Professor Seth Gitner’s Multimedia Storytelling and Digital Communications class, which wasn’t always easy.
“We had to source actors for most of the projects that we did,” she says. “Doing things like that was a challenge but when it all came together it was very rewarding.”
McLawrence even worked on a final research project where she used a natural sound sequence, videotaping with natural sound while making an omelette.
“It was an eye opener to see how many different shots you would have to take just to see a video sequence of someone making an omelette in a movie,” she says.
McLawrence strives to “represent journalism with light and integrity, truth and honesty,” while also continuing to “think about innovative places that the journalism field can go towards.”
As she completes her studies, she’s excited to be a part of the Syracuse University family.
“Being a Newhouse student has been a complete honor and being an Advanced Local fellow has been the honor of a lifetime.”
Nico Horning is a first-year student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.