The University of New Mexico


Contact: Carolyn Gonzales 277-5920

Jan. 27, 2010

Innovative Program Gives UNM Broadcast Journalism Students Real World Experience

Four University of New Mexico student interns are now reporting on the activities of the current session of the Legislature in Santa Fe, sending their radio reports to more than 55 stations across the state. At the same time, their counterparts in Washington, D.C., a group of five students, are learning the basics of news reporting as actual reporters for NMBA.

All the students are part of a joint project between the UNM journalism program, New Mexico Broadcasters Association and Young American Broadcasters (YAB). All are from New Mexico communities. The program, now in its second calendar year, provides young people with real life reporting skills and the opportunity to put those skills into practice.  

Ellen Ratner, Talk Radio News Service bureau chief, said, “This program is fulfilling a need for the students to learn and practice a skill while preparing a new generation of broadcasters to update and educate the public about important issues in Santa Fe and Washington, D.C. This program is the only one in the U.S. and we hope a model that be extended across the nation.” 

The students now interning in Santa Fe spent the fall semester in Washington, D.C. reporting from Congress, government offices and interviewing officials. They worked out of the TRNS bureau, lived in intern housing and attended events throughout the District.

“By sponsoring this program, the NMBA is continuing its mission to broadcast information to New Mexicans while at the same time helping train the people who will be working in the industry tomorrow,” said Milt McConnell, NMBA’s current board chairman.  “It’s a win, win program.”

McConnell said the NMBA provided $30,000 to UNM for a year of the program, which offsets transportation and housing costs for the first part of the program. While in Washington, they are supervised by YAB and TRNS. The interns reporting from Santa Fe are supervised by Melanie Majors, a former New Mexico reporter and news producer. UNM Professor Richard Schaefer is the university sponsor.

The Washington interns have interviewed U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, sharing their reports with New Mexico radio stations while their counterparts in Santa Fe have distributed stories on the budget, legislation to open the House to webcasting, UNM Day and a piece that is looking at tax incentives for the New Mexico film industry – a story that was picked up by the major media in New Mexico.

Washington interns include Antonia Aguilar, Monique Cala, Benny Martinez, Laurel Prichard and Sofia Sanchez. The interns now working in Santa Fe are: Julie La Jeunsse, Travis Martinez, Laura Smith and Leah Valencia.

A goal is to have the current DC interns cover the New Mexico Legislature and other statewide news in 2011. Another plan is to extend the program to students at other New Mexico universities.

For more information, contact:  Paula Maes, New Mexico Broadcasters or 505-881-4444; or Ellen Ratner, Talk Radio News Service, or 617-640-3999.


The University of New Mexico is the state's largest university, serving more than 32,000 students. UNM is home to the state's only schools of law, medicine, pharmacy and architecture and operates New Mexico's only academic health center. UNM is noted for comprehensive undergraduate programs and research that benefits the state and the nation.