This semester-long investigative journalism internship is coordinated through the Piper Center’s recently-launched “Ole Career Launcher” program.
During the spring semester, students will generate an investigative journalism project, learning to apply critical thinking to identify a significant and suitable topic; dig for information, sources and documents; pursue best practices in interviewing, research and fact-checking; be fair and accurate. Fieldwork will generate a finished journalism article or series that will enlighten readers and be worthy of publication.
Over the spring semester, students will meet once weekly for a three hour workshop led by alumni and industry experts Gretchen Morgenson ’76 and Karla Hult ’95. There will also be group sessions meeting at least once per week to work collaboratively on the project. Workshop leaders will also host weekly office hours to allow for time to check in on progress, and answer any questions. This experience will require a (minimum) average of 10 hours per week during the spring semester.
The specific objectives of this program are to:
Students will gain experience in hands-on journalism, and more specifically, how to do investigations
Identify a topic or issue that is being overlooked
Develop a project, run an investigation, serve as reporters
Write a story, or series of stories for potential publication
Clips to be leveraged in future internship/job applications
Students will learn about and apply key skills required for investigative journalism (i.e. writing style, ethics, objectivity, news values)
Gretchen Morgenson ’76
Gretchen is the senior financial reporter in the Investigations unit at NBC News, a position she assumed in December 2019. Previously, Ms. Morgenson spent two years as an investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal and almost 20 years as assistant business and financial editor and columnist at The New York Times. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her “trenchant and incisive” coverage of Wall Street in The Times.
Ms. Morgenson began her career in 1976 upon graduation from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. She joined Vogue Magazine as an editorial assistant and began writing the personal finance column for the magazine several years later. In 1981 she became a stockbroker at Dean Witter, a job she held for three years. Ms. Morgenson joined Money Magazine as a staff writer in 1984 and moved to Forbes in 1986. She was named assistant managing editor at the magazine in September 1997.
Ms. Morgenson is co-author, with Joshua Rosner, of Reckless Endangerment, a New York Times bestseller about the origins of the 2008 financial crisis published in May 2011 by Times Books. Ms. Morgenson has won two Gerald Loeb Awards, one in 2009 for her coverage of Wall Street and another in 2002 for excellence in financial commentary. Ms. Morgenson has also served on two Pulitzer Prize juries, evaluating investigative reporting entries in 2009 and 2010. Ms. Morgenson and her husband live in New York City and have a son.
Karla Hult ’95
Karla Hult is an Emmy, Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite award-winning journalist and proud alum of both St. Olaf College and Columbia University.
Karla graduated magna cum laude from St. Olaf College with a double major in English and Political Science. At St. Olaf, she was also inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society. She later graduated with a Master’s of International Affairs from Columbia University in New York, where she also earned a writing fellowship.
Karla has worked in eight different newsrooms throughout the country, as a print reporter and TV reporter and anchor. For the last 14 years, she’s worked at her “TV home” – KARE 11, the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis – where you’ll find her both anchoring and reporting on international, political and cultural issues.
At KARE, Karla has received multiple awards, including the prestigious Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Political Journalism. But she remains most proud of her advocacy work against Alzheimer’s disease and for refugees. Karla’s stories documenting her dad’s own Alzheimer’s journey – So Many Goodbyes – resulted in a regional Emmy and two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. She considers the series the most difficult but rewarding project of her journalism career. In June 2021, she also started a company – So Many Goodbyes – to help those on the Alzheimer’s journey.
A couple of years ago, Karla was beyond honored to return to The Hill to teach journalism to the next generation of St. Olaf students. She’s loved the opportunity, as she finds herself constantly inspired by the creativity and talents of these future leaders.
During one semester, students will generate an investigative journalism project, learning to: apply critical thinking to identify a significant and suitable topic; dig for information, sources and documents; pursue best practices in interviewing, research and fact-checking; be fair and accurate. Fieldwork will generate a finished journalism article or series that will enlighten readers and be worthy of publication.
1.0 academic credit will be offered for the opportunity. (Students enroll in Film/Media 294 course.) Karla Hult serves as “instructor/faculty supervisor,” and Gretchen Morgenson serves as your “site supervisor.” The internship project plus the supplemental academic work must total a minimum of 160 hours (120 devoted to internship project). See here for more information on the academic internship program, and applying for credit: https://wp.stolaf.edu/pipercenter/find-internships-research-opportunities/getting-academic-credit-for-an-internship/domestic-academic-internships/
Identifying an investigation subject that will compel and enlighten readers.
Finding and cultivating sources.
Understanding the crucial role documents play in investigations, where to find them, how to interpret them.
The use of court documents and legal proceedings.
Honing your interviewing skills.
Ensuring the reporting is fair.
The importance of fact-checking and reliance on primary sources.
Synthesizing your findings into words; how to write cogently and simply and keep your reader reading.
How to present your reporting on multiple platforms (digital, text, social)