Learning News in the News Capital

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WJC Student Navar Watson

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- You can start learning journalism in the classroom, but sophomore Navar Watson found there is nothing quite like honing your talents in the news laboratory of Washington, D.C.

Watson, Convergent Journalism major and sophomore at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), spent spring semester 2014 in the capital as a student at the Washington Journalism Center (WJC).

Spring 2014 WJC Students
Spring 2014 WJC Students

WJC includes a full 16 credits of coursework in news writing and reporting fundamentals, and includes approximately 20 hours a week at internships in D.C. news organizations that will give the students published writing assignments. After interviewing several places, Watson was offered a position at Catholic News Service, a worldwide organization that serves over 100 Catholic-focused newspapers and online publications.

Julie Asher, National Editor and Intern Coordinator, praised Watson’s writing abilities and interest in religion news that led to good story pitches. “We do interviews with them beforehand, knowing that each intern has about two or three options they can pick. And when we talk to a good one, like Navar, it’s kind of like, ‘oh…I hope he’ll pick CNS’,” Asher said.

Watson’s daily assignments quickly dropped him into the busy life of a D.C. reporter, commuting to work on the subway, learning bus schedules and lots of walking. His Metro transit pass and many phone calls took him to stories he would never have experienced as a student journalist on campus. He traveled to Philadelphia to interview a Holocaust survivor who had a 25 year correspondence with Pope John Paul II.

The newsroom at Catholic News Service, Washington, D.C.
The newsroom at Catholic News Service, Washington, D.C.

In March, he spoke with three religious leaders – Catholic, Evangelical and Muslim – from the Central African Republic, meeting in D.C. to raise awareness and seek solutions for conflicts in their country. All three spoke French and Watson had to conduct his interviews through a translator. Once completed, one of the leaders told the translator he was “pleased to see a young American journalist ask such direct questions.”

Watson was surprised by the response. “I’ve always viewed myself as an indirect sort of person and therefore not a very good journalist,” he said in an email. “I suppose my time in D.C. has made a bigger impact on me than I thought.”

The experience will indeed shape Watson as he returns to IWU as a junior and co-editor of The Sojourn in fall 2014. Throughout the semester, his internship challenged him with real-world reporting assignments and his WJC classes developed his skills and exposed him to some of Washington’s brightest professionals.

Watson's daily commute.
Watson’s daily commute took him by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Catholic University of America.

 “You have these wonderful leaders in the (WJC) program guiding you through the discussion of being a Christian and being a journalist…You get to hear from so many interesting people…coming in and doing guest lectures…their passion and their desire for news, to report and tell stories is inspiring no matter what field you go into.” Watson said.

Republished by permission of ComWire, a news source of the Indiana Wesleyan University Division of Communication & Theatre