Two West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism seniors are sharing the news of the state Legislature with West Virginia residents this semester.
Missy Myers of Charleston and Justin Hough, a native of Fayetteville, are following and writing about the 2009 legislative session as part of the Office of Reference and Information Journalism Internship Program at the state Capitol.
The Legislature’s Student Internship Selection Committee recruits four students each session from the WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism and Marshall University School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the state’s only two accredited journalism schools.
Myers and Hough – selected out of eight applicants to work for the Legislature’s Office of Reference and Information – are expected to write columns for lawmakers, prepare news releases, cover floor sessions for both the House and Senate and blog for the Legislature’s official Web site (http://www.legis.state.wv.us).
In return, they receive a $5,200 stipend for living expenses and three credit hours toward their degree upon completion of the program.
“This internship is a unique opportunity,” Hough said. “Not only are we honing the skills necessary to our particular fields, but doing so in an environment unlike any other.”
Hough and Myers, both public relations majors, landed their internships through a competitive process. They were required to file an application, write an essay on their qualifications and interest in the program and interview with the selection committee. In addition, they provided copies of academic transcripts, letters of reference and writing samples.
Myers says the effort was worth it.
“I get to see how the legislative process works from the inside,” she said. “Each day I learn new things about [public relations] and government, and it allows me the opportunity to develop professional skills as well.”
Legislative leaders established the West Virginia Legislative Resource and Information Center in 1989. It is an independent office that assists all 134 members of the state Legislature with their communications needs, including news releases, educational brochures, the Wrap Up newsletter, among others. Staff members also maintain the official legislative Web site.
Both Myers and Hough plan to stay in Charleston for the entire session, which started Jan. 7 and runs through April 29.
Drew Ross, a 2000 graduate of the School of Journalism and now deputy director of the Legislature’s Office of Reference and Information, says the interns are “fine examples” of the students at WVU and the School of Journalism.
“These two have so far proven themselves to be more than capable in all the tasks they have been assigned, and I am confident they will prove themselves more than worthy of this opportunity during the 2009 regular session of the 79th West Virginia Legislature,” Ross said.