Ask Jake Allen and he’ll tell you. Experience is the key.
Allen is editor-in-chief of The State News, Michigan State University’s student newspaper. In high school, he attended MIPA’s workshops and conferences as part of the media program at South Lyon High School
The once wide-eyed high school student has now accomplished what many high school journalists dream of.
Today, Allen is a journalism major at MSU, and he recently finished an internship at the Colorado Spring Gazette as a news reporter.
“I took a newspaper class in high school and I really liked it,” Allen said. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I got to Michigan State, so I decided to try journalism. I really liked it and so I stuck with it.”
Allen started The State News in summer 2015, between his sophomore and junior years. He started as a general assignment reporter and one month later too over covering East Lansing’s local government.
“I really liked going to the city council meetings and seeing how all of that worked,” Allen said. “I also really liked feature writing. I had no experience in features, but I found that some of those stories are really my favorite ones to tell.”
Allen applied for the editor-in-chief position in March. He said he was ready for the transition.
“I worked really hard for it those first couple of weeks at The State News,” Allen said. “I feel like my editors at the time thought I was ready for it too.”
Allen said it has been fun this fall being an editor and watching the reporters grow throughout the semester.
During the summer, Allen was an intern at The Colorado Springs Gazette.
“I got a lot of experience with breaking news, crime, fires and that sort of thing,” Allen said. “I also got experience with longer-form features. I also filled in for the military reporter for two weeks.
“That was tough because I knew nothing about the military so I had to learn quickly,” Allen said. “There are a lot of rules on who you can talk to, what you can say and what titles you can use.”
Allen said the internship taught him how to learn quickly and how to do different types of reporting. Two of Allen’s stories were printed as the main story two days in a row.
“They sent me to the Air Force Academy for the cadets’ first day,” Allen said. “It was a very emotional day with all the cadets saying goodbye to their families.”
Allen said attending MIPA and taking his high school newspaper class helped inspire him to continue in the field of journalism.
“I went to a couple of conferences in high school,” Allen said. “It was always an exciting thing to do and my whole newspaper class would go to the award ceremony. MIPA gave me a little taste for more intense and more specific types of journalism.”
Allen said after he graduates he would like to intern at a big newspaper and is interested in being a city reporter.
“The most rewarding thing is after a story comes out and it makes a difference and you can see the impact happen,” Allen said. “Or when a source reaches out and says you did a good job.”