By
Robert Leitner ’17
09/18/2017
Leveraging the skills used to produce a weekly print newspaper and news website, the staff of Rider University's student newspaper, The Rider News, have recently benefited from a series of coveted internships with media companies in New York and New Jersey.

In turn, they will bring their expanded skill sets back to the paper when it resumes publication for the fall semester. That cycle is part of what Dr. Jackie Incollingo, the newspaper's faculty advisor, refers to as a "news laboratory" at the University.

"The experience of working for The Rider News has proven to be invaluable for our journalism and sports media majors in terms of clinching summer internships with professional media organizations and jobs after graduation," says Incollingo, who is also an assistant professor of communication. “Students get hands-on experience doing background research, conducting interviews and writing on deadline about issues that really matter on our campus."

The newspapers senior staff recently took the time to describe their roles, background and how their internships influenced their passion for writing, reporting and editing. They are currently accepting applications for students hoping to work for the publication.

Executive Editor Brandon Scalea, senior journalism major

Scalea was first attracted to the Rider News because of real-world journalism experience it offered and the excitement of covering Rider’s Division I sports teams. Scalea now finds himself in a leadership position with the newspaper.

“I oversee every section and every operation of the newspaper,” Scalea says. “I am the last set of eyes for every story and for the layout of every page. I also am responsible for deciding what we should cover.”

Using his journalistic abilities developed through a combination of academia and his participation with the Rider News, Scalea recently interned with NJ.com covering local news in the city of Trenton and in Mercer County.

“It was a very interesting experience to be able to inform a county where there certainly isn't a shortage of news,” says Scalea. “I covered a lot of Trenton crime as well, and that was fascinating. I also covered courts in Trenton, and wrote about several murder trials and hearings for violent criminals”

Managing Editor Shanna O’Mara, senior journalism major

O’Mara joined the Rider News her freshman year and found that the focus of her journalism classes dovetailed seamlessly with her Rider News experience.

“As a journalism major, I take a lot of reporting and writing classes focused on breaking news, feature pieces, sports writing and live coverage,” says O’Mara. “I have done all of this at The Rider News. I have been able to take every lesson from the classroom and apply it to work at the paper whether it be live tweeting a speech, writing an obituary or recreating the atmosphere at a game, meet, match, concert or play through descriptive words and firsthand accounts.”

O’Mara’s most recent internship was with Pinstripes Plus, an online paid subscription magazine that covers news within the New York Yankees’ farm system. She handles writing features and profiles on players from the Trenton Thunder. According to O’Mara, there is never a dull moment when she is attending home games at Arm & Hammer Park, where she has run into Hideki Matsui while collecting information for stories.

“Every bit of experience gained at The Rider News — interview and photography skills, writing for information and entertainment, editing for clarity and word count — has helped me excel in Trenton and made it that much easier to move forward in this field with confidence,” says O’Mara.

She says she feels prepared to enter the working world after Rider.

“I have full faith in myself and the rest of our staff at the paper to leave Rider with the skills necessary to not only find employment but be happy wherever we end up,” says O’Mara.

News Editor Lauren Lavelle, junior journalism major

Lavelle pays close attention to Rider happenings and assigns articles to members of the news staff, in addition to writing one to two news articles a week. She noted that the combination of her classes and her involvement with the Rider News both contributed to her growth as a student.

“My writing has changed drastically since I began taking my journalism courses and working with the Rider News,” Lavelle says. “I now know how to structure a proper article, write a lead, edit correctly and think like a true journalist. I take skills from the classroom and apply them to my Rider News work every week.”

Lavelle’s most recent internship was in New York City with Working Mother Magazine, which focuses on women in the workforce balancing home life. At Working Mother Magazine, she typically writes an article or two a day for their website, fact-checks for the monthly print edition and does photo research. Lavelle also had the opportunity to have a print byline in the October/November issue of the magazine.

“The Rider News has definitely shown me how to work as a team and that was something this publication was all about,” says Lavelle. “It also helped me with the technical aspects of my internship. I can work with a content management system and edit an article thoroughly, and meeting the magazine's word count per article was never a problem.”   

The Rider News publishes weekly print editions every Wednesday as well as online at its newly re-designed website www.theridernews.com and its social media channels. If you are interested in working at the Rider News, please contact Brandon Scalea at [email protected]