Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Overby Center Internship

Yesterday I concluded my semester-long internship as student assistant at The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

The Overby Center is funded through a grant from the Freedom Forum, a foundation dedicated to educating people about the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. The Center's mission is to create better understanding of the media and politicians and the role of the First Amendment in U.S. democracy.

The Center features programs, multimedia displays and writings that examine the independent and interrelated relationships of the media and politicians; past, present and future. Because many leaders in media and politics have come from the South, the Overby Center pays special attention to Southern perspectives.

The Center is named for Charles L. Overby, editor of the Daily Mississippian at the University of Mississippi from 1967 to 1968, executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson from 1982 to 1984, former vice president/news of the Gannett Co., former member of the management committee of USA TODAY, and now chairman, chief executive officer of the Newseum.

During the semester I worked for and did research for Overby fellows Curtis Wilkie and John Hailman. Wilkie is a revered Southern journalist and author and was a reporter at The Boston Globe for over 25 years before teaching journalism at the university. Hailman, a federal prosecutor, also teaches at the university and was a wine columnist for the Washington Post and was nationally syndicated for over a decade by Gannett News Service.

Under Curtis (as he prefers his students to call him), I transcribed phone calls for a book he is working on involving one of the most recent Mississippi fraud cases. For Professor Hailman, I worked on typing and editing the chapters for his next two book projects, Midnight to Guntown and Good Wine. Both fellows were unique personalities to work with and it was great getting to know them.

For Dawn Jeter, the Operations Manager of the Overby Center, I helped set up for different forums and speakers that visited the center throughout the semester. I also handled other administrative assistant work that she needed.

My time with the Overby Center also provided me with a chance to meet and work with many journalists and politicians such as NBC broadcaster Sander Van Oker, Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth, state representative Jim Evans, Pulitzer Prize writer Gene Roberts, and NBC anchor Tom Brokaw who I had previously worked for during the presidential debate last fall.

Although at times, work was rigorously fast-paced and seemingly over-whelming, I did enjoy my time interning there. It was my first job where I had my own three-sided, oak desk and how cool is that! Since yesterday was my last day, Professor Hailman gave me a signed copy of his book Thomas Jefferson on Wine and a 2007 bottle of Hogue white Riesling wine. As a dessert wine, the Hogue is wonderful and the book has been added to my on-going book collection.

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