Growing up in the same town, Shay Maunz, Jamie McCracken and Ashton Marra shared many milestones – birthdays, prom, high school graduation. But they never shared their dreams of becoming media professionals until they came to West Virginia University.

“I don’t think we ever talked about our careers, but we all assumed that we would go into journalism,” Marra said. “It’s kind of strange that we’ve all done such big things with it.”

All three Clarksburg, W.Va., natives are either interning or working for major media organizations this summer.

Maunz, who will graduate in August with a degree in print journalism, will spend her summer working as a multimedia intern at The New Yorker. She is shooting and editing video for the magazine’s website and iPad app – a role that didn’t even exist three years ago.

Maunz says she always wanted to work for The New Yorker but thought that it was a dream to be reached far into the future. She says the multimedia skills that she learned while participating in the P.I. Reed School of Journalism’s West Virginia Uncovered project pushed her resume to the top of the pile.

“If I were solely a writer, it would be harder to get there [The New Yorker],” Maunz said. “But there’s something about these emerging fields where they need young blood.”

McCracken says his goal is to be “well-rounded” by the time he graduates in December 2012. Having already completed an internship with ESPN last fall, McCracken wanted more experience with print journalism and digital media.

This summer, he is interning on the National Football League desk at USA Today in McLean, Va., where he is interviewing players, writing stories and selecting photos and videos for the USA Today website. McCracken says the opportunity is off the beaten path for a television journalism major, but it’s a detour worth taking.

“Say yes to every opportunity you can get. That’s what I’ve been taught,” McCracken said. “Whether it ends up being a fantastic experience or not, you at least learn about yourself and what you truly want to do for a career.”

Marra was able to turn her spring 2012 internship at ABC in New York into a freelance job as a production assistant. She is assisting with video shoots, pulling archive video for stories and monitoring wires for breaking news during the third hour of “Good Morning America.”

Although Marra is positive that broadcast news is the right career choice for her, she says a strong background in print journalism laid the foundation for her to build her skills.

“When I took public affairs reporting, I started to realize there is so much more than just putting together a news story together and sticking it on TV,” Marra said. “You have to be able to do everything. Especially now with online, you have to know how to write a story, and I think that’s all based in print.”

Marra who graduated in May with a degree in television journalism, said the transition from working in local media to working on a national leveling is grueling – another bonding experience for the long-time friends.

“Even though we are in different aspects of journalism, we’re all kind of in the same boat,” Marra said. “Being in the world of national media is a huge change from local news. I think having the same things going on, and the same backgrounds, and the same hometowns –it’s just a really good support system to have.”



CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, School of Journalism

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