Covering Coronavirus: Tips, best practices and programs

Introducing the Class of 2020: Benjamin Weiss

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: Benjamin S. Weiss

School: American University

Location: Washington, D.C.

Student media: Editor-in-chief, AWOL

Journalism hero: Marie Colvin 

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

Weiss: As the editor-in-chief of a small investigative journalism publication, I’ve learned that sometimes student journalists need to fight to be heard. As journalists, we have the important task of speaking truth to power on campus. That can be a thankless job, but we don’t do it for praise. Student journalists like the ones I managed are motivated by a passion for the craft and an honest desire to make a difference in their communities.

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

Weiss: During my time at university, I never had a journalism-related internship. I poured all four years of my undergraduate experience into my student publication, and it afforded me some of the most valuable journalistic experience of my life.

What’s been your best moment in journalism?

Weiss: I wrote a lot over the last four years, but my best moment in journalism was handing the reins of my publication over to the new editors-in-chief. There is nothing more rewarding for a journalist, and for a leader, than the feeling of confidence that the people replacing you are as committed to the mission as you are. I feel a great sense of pride in knowing that the publication I worked so hard to maintain is in such good hands. I hope that I inspired my younger colleagues to keep digging deep and telling important stories.

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

Weiss: Most of my reporting has been pretty serious, but I can share my publication’s wackiest story — we were one of the first news organizations in D.C. to break the news that the District had its rattiest year on record.

What do you want to accomplish in your journalism career?

Weiss: My ultimate goal is to be a foreign correspondent or war journalist, and to explore those topics with the depth and nuance they deserve. Regardless of where I end up, though, I want to write stories that inspire my readers to learn and act.

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

Weiss: If I could sit down with Marie Colvin right now, I would probably first ask her how she got her nerves of steel. War journalism (and honestly any other type of journalism) requires serious mental fortitude, and I would really just want to know how she balanced the stress of working in a dangerous environment while still doing powerful reporting.

What do you want potential employers to know about you?

Weiss: I think the most important thing I’d like potential employers to know about me is that I don’t just report the issues, I *care* about them. I find it quite easy to get excited about any subject, and this enthusiasm improves the quality of my work. I want to genuinely understand the issues, and I want to make sure that my reporting portrays them as accurately as possible. It’s important as a journalist to be adaptable, and my genuine love for journalism and the issues I cover makes adapting that much easier.

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

Weiss: Since quarantine began, I’ve spent a lot of time taking walks, drinking coffee, and playing Animal Crossing. In an ideal world, I’d be playing basketball with my roommates back in D.C.

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.


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