Covering Coronavirus: Tips, best practices and programs

Introducing the Class of 2020: Donny Morrison

The National Press Club Journalism Institute is spotlighting the next generation of journalists, students graduating from college or Master’s programs this spring into a challenging job market, in hopes they’ll meet future bosses and colleagues here who will reach out and support them in building journalism’s future together. 

Name: Donny Morrison

School: University of Oregon

Location: Eugene, OR

Student media: Daily Emerald, The Torch

Published in: The Daily Guide, Eugene Weekly, Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association

What have you learned from your involvement with student media on your campus?

Morrison: Upon enrollment at the University of Oregon, I immediately joined the news desk at the award-winning Daily Emerald, UO’s paper of record. The office became a second home and my writing found new meaning on the much larger campus. I wrote about the disproportionate amount of hate crimes happening in Eugene compared to the much larger city of Portland. I got to dig into the murky past of a local music venue taking on new ownership. I broke a story about a homegrown white nationalist attempting to sneak back into the local music scene after being outed as a racist and a bigot.

It’s also where I found my knack for editing and helping student journalists. I’m finishing my senior year as the managing editor of the Daily Emerald. I oversee content published online and in our weekly print editions. I help writers pick cover stories and assist them through the process of writing longer features. I write and edit breaking news throughout the week. I’ve had to learn how to put together a paper from the ground up. I know the basics of Adobe Indesign and am used to writing headlines and photo captions for stories on deadline. 

What have you learned from your internship experience(s)?

Morrison: In the summer of 2019 I traveled to Ghana for a six-week reporting internship at The Daily Guide, Accra’s largest independently owned newspaper. I learned how to work under pressure in environments where I’m not always comfortable. I contributed reporting to stories that tackled education reform and political corruption in Ghana. Seeing the way journalism was practiced in another part of the world has helped me understand the importance of journalistic ethics and unbiased reporting.

I’m also in the middle of a reporting internship with the Eugene Weekly. In March, my story “Begin Modeling,” became the most viewed story in the history of the Eugene Weekly’s website. It told the story of a UO freshman who had been coerced and deceived into having sex on camera. In my reporting, it was revealed that my subject had been one of thousands of girls who had been tricked into sex trafficking through the Girls Do Porn website. The story went viral on Twitter and Facebook. I’m also focusing my time on breaking news and local business reporting. In October, I wrote about the Governor of Oregon’s failure to follow through on plans to address Oregon’s untreated addiction crisis

What’s been your best moment in journalism?

Morrison: I spent two years as a news reporter and news editor for Lane Community College’s student-run newspaper, The Torch. This is where I learned of the pivotal role journalism plays in institutional accountability. I covered the student government and kept track of the school’s unreliable budget. The elusive nature of the school’s spending is what first piqued my interest in watchdog journalism. I won second place for best feature news story at the 2017 Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association contest for my story “His Final Hike.”

What’s the wackiest story you’ve worked on? 

Morrison: My story about a liberal arts student, and prominent member of the local theatre community, that was secretly an alt-right vlogger making hateful and racist videos on Youtube under a pseudonym is probably one of the craziest stories I’ve worked on. I got some weird phone calls reporting on this one.

What do you want to accomplish in your journalism career?

Morrison: I want to tell the kinds of stories that aren’t often told. I want to discuss with individuals on the fringes of American society and then report back directly to readers. I’ve made it my mission to act as a conduit between the people without a platform and the people with the privilege to subscribe to the New York Times.

If you could meet any journalist and ask for her/his advice, who would it be and why?

Morrison: I would want to meet Evan Wright, the author of Generation Kill. I’d like to ask him how he manages to write in stressful situations. This feels especially important in the age of coronavirus, when newly graduated college students without jobs will have to learn to be self-motivated.

What do you want potential employers to know about you?

Morrison: I want them to know that I’m not your average journalist. My path to journalistic writing is different than most others, and I feel like that’s what gives me a unique perspective when writing my stories.

When you aren’t practicing journalism, how do you spend your time?

Morrison: When not practicing journalism, I’m likely reading fiction or watching old Dustin Hoffman movies. I’m an avid climber, hiker and wannabe dancer. If I’m at home, I’m likely annoying my cat or working on personal writing.

If you’re a senior studying journalism, or know one, we’re accepting information here for students to feature in the future. If you’re a supporter, you can contribute here to scholarships for journalism students


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments