Pleasanton Weekly

Column - August 13, 2010

Salute to our summer interns

by Jeb Bing

Our two summer interns at the Pleasanton Weekly are heading back to school after about three months of learning about newspapers while also updating our awareness of life on the high school and college campuses these days. Brittany Hersh, a journalism major at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California where she'll graduate next June, lives with her parents Grace and Robert Hersh in Ruby Hill. A 2007 graduate of Amador Valley High School, she's passionate about history, particularly the American Revolution and World War II, and hopes to combine a career in journalism with work at a museum where she can produce publications focused on historical works.

Our other newsroom intern was Rachel Thompson, who will be a senior this year at Monte Vista High in Danville. A school cheerleader and also a budding "Dancing with the Stars" candidate as an active member of a private dance studio team, she is the daughter of Christa and Martin Thompson of Danville. Skilled at computers and research, we put her to work editing Info San Ramon Valley, a resource guide for Alamo, Blackhawk, Danville, Diablo and San Ramon that will be published Sept. 27. At the same time, she researched and updated information to be published Oct. 8 in Info Pleasanton/Dublin, a resource guide for these two communities.

This was Rachel's first job. Since there are hundreds of details and data to check, she started by emailing service organizations, community groups and city and civic organizations for updates on everything from department directors to the days of the month and times that youth commissions and energy committees will meet in the coming year. Playing phone tag, as she called it, was a major part of her work as she followed up with individuals in charge of these groups, often making more than 20 calls a day and handling at least that many in return. There were few dull moments with many of those providing the information Rachel has now keyboarded into the new guides. Since the magazine format on high quality paper sets them aside from other publications, the Info's have become household directories everyone can turn to for help, whether its finding someone to call if the outdoor streetlight goes out in front of your house or using one of the Info maps to find a park for "open lot" baseball or picnic tables. Adding to her interest were the many community activities that she hadn't heard of. She plans to grab extra copies of the Info's to share with her classmates at Monte Vista to show them "all the cool organizations out there that most people aren't aware of."

For Brittany, her summer at the Weekly was a chance to earn points in Azusa Pacific's journalism program. I sent regular reports to Dr. Marcia Berry, who is the director of internships in the school's Communications Studies Department. Brittany had the chance to cover a variety of assignments ranging from a benefit dog wash to a story about high school performers traveling to four cities as part of a summertime jazz tour. Her work here also gave her time to continue as a manager of the Birds and Small Animals exhibit during the Alameda County Fair. During the opening Friday night fireworks show, a nest of yellow jackets was disturbed and one young woman rushed into the small animals area in agony. Brittany called the paramedics first, and then sent me a note about the yellow jacket attacks, giving us a lead on the story and proving her talent at handling breaking news.

My thanks to both young women for their great contributions to our summer intern program.

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