By Carissa Davis
Patrick Henry College
A junior journalism major at PHC, Degnan worked 50 hours a week as a full-time reporter at the News-Review, earning four internship credits while also reporting for other papers in the Times-Review publishing chain: the North Shore Sun and the Suffolk Times.
Her first introduction to the News-Review newsroom, she recalls, came in the middle of a story meeting. She walked out of that meeting with “a boatload of assignments.” Her typical week included story meetings on Thursdays, from which Degnan would typically emerge with five or six story assignments. Fridays would be spent contacting sources, and, from Monday through Wednesday, Degnan conducted interviews and crafted stories in advance of Thursday publication deadlines.
The pace proved frenetic and the writing and reporting intense, she confirms, but the pay-off was that “ten thousand people were reading my stuff.”
Degnan’s credits her PHC journalism classes for giving her the “building blocks” needed to work in a professional, fast-paced newsroom. The Journalism I and II courses she took taught and reinforced the basics of news-writing, and her experience as editor of the PHC Herald instilled teamwork and the skills needed to lead a team of reporters. She also credits her work with the Herald Online for building her skills at generating story ideas and writing hard news. All of it, she said, prepared her for her internship in a real newsroom.
As a Christian journalist working in a secular newsroom, Degnan says that the most rewarding thing learned from her internship was how her personal faith could make an impact. While she didn’t “go around preaching about her religion,” she said, her coworkers knew she was a Christian. Occasionally one of them would ask her opinion about spiritual matters, and her editor once came to her asking how she managed to integrate her faith with her work. They ended up talking about faith for an hour over pizza. Others she said seemed to notice the ethics and morality Degnan worked hard to display.
“I got to be a reporter and a Christian,” Degnan said.
Asked if newsroom reporting would likely be her future career choice, Degnan was hesitant to commit. “If I stay on the path I’m on now, that’s where I’ll end up,” she said, noting that she remains open to and interested in different possibilities, including motherhood. For now it’s clear that she will continue to enjoy learning and growing as a journalist and wait to see which doors God opens.