Student Lends Talent to San Francisco Chronicle

By Corey Bruecker

In today’s competitive job market, it is increasingly important to have internship experience to land an entry-level career position.

That means that many students feel pressure to secure a summer internship before they graduate. Bill Hall isn’t one of them.

Hall, a senior with an option in news, spent summer 2014 with a paid internship as a news copy editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.

The internship was made possible rough the Dow Jones News Fund, a national organization supported by Dow Jones & Company that focuses on education for students and educators to promote careers in journalism.

There are usually a large number of applicants for these internships, and Hall found himself competing with more than 600 students nationally for one of 85 positions. The application process consisted of a rigorous, proctored copy editing test comprising word usage questions, knowledge of current events, story editing and headline writing.

Hall already had taken Journalism 327, “News Editing and Copyreading,” with Professor Mark Plenke and worked as a copy editor for The Orion.

Once Hall was selected for the internship, he was told that the News Fund would be sending him to work at the Chronicle.

Image of Bill Hall

Before he started work in San Francisco, he spent 10 days at the University of Texas at Austin living in the dorms and attending a copy editing workshop, which he said was more of a refresher than anything.

“They have you writing headlines and editing copy, and practice like hell basically,” he said. “But none of it was brand new information. I went into it really prepared, not just from classes [at Chico State], but from working on The Orion and working with things like headlines regularly.”

Hall’s time at the Chronicle was spent editing copy from all different sections of the paper, writing headlines and cutlines, and working closely with the designers to make sure everything fit in the paper.

“What I always tell people is that there’s no glory on the copy desk,” he said. “You’re not going to get a byline and you’re not going to write or report stories. You’re going to be working on copy.”

One memory that stuck with Hall from his time at the Chronicle was seeing the newsroom in action after the death of Robin Williams.

“It was late afternoon when the news broke, so basically everything was already set and the front page had been decided,” he said. “After that, everything had to be changed to see who could get the news out first in the best way possible. And to see the newsroom respond to major breaking news like that was cool.”

While he enjoyed his time working as a copy editor, Hall says he’s not quite sure yet if that’s what he wants to do after graduation, although it’s comforting to know he always has that option.

“I got a lot of good feedback, and the senior news editor there told me to look him up when I graduate, but I’m not sure that’s what I want,” Hall said. “I want to be able to do a little bit of everything.”

One thing Hall is sure of is that Chico State J&PR readied him for both his internship and what’s to come after graduation.

“I will always support our program, and I think it was definitely a big part of how well-prepared I was,” he said.