We Tried It | Scientific reporting for Mongabay

Two red foxes look at the camera from where they rest on a concrete parking lot.

From my article, "Studies debunk ‘nature is healing’ narrative from 2020 lockdowns" (Photo by Rural Explorer courtesy of Unsplash / https://unsplash.com/license).

As an intern for Mongabay, I felt like a reporter, while still maintaining the learning experience a good internship offers. The internship started with an assignment; I was given a topic, a published research paper, recommended contacts, and a few important ideas to hit on the story. After that, it was on me. Mongabay not only gave me the freedom to write my own stories, but they encouraged me to push the story in whatever way I saw fit. 

Over the course of the summer, I wrote six articles. For each one, I conducted interviews, researched assigned topics, and analyzed research papers. Once a draft was completed, I sent it to my editor, Jeremy Hance, who provided me with constructive feedback that always pushed me to be a better writer. Jeremy’s edits went beyond what I typically receive as a reporter, as the edits were written to help me improve as a writer, in addition to helping my article improve.

To me, this internship experience meant a place to grow and refine my scientific reporting skills. Being encouraged to explore a topic in ways I find newsworthy was quite liberating. The constructive feedback genuinely improved my writing ability, while the complex topics challenged my explanatory skills.

These complex topics were the challenge of my internship experience. When you become so enveloped in a topic, you forget the baseline knowledge readers often have. Explaining the relationship between rising temperatures, climate change, and a high African wild dog mortality rate becomes more difficult the more you learn. For this specific story, my editor and I went back and forth, draft after draft, attempting to adequately explain how a study approached this subject. 

A personal highlight for me was having an article republished with NowThis. When I was in high school, NowThis was a publication I came across often due to their short explanatory, and often viral videos. Seeing an article I wrote for Mongabay published by them was somewhat of a full-circle moment for me. The fact that another publication wanted to republish my article also meant that someone else thought my writing was at the least intriguing!

Mongabay really allowed me to develop as a reporter on my own. The topics challenged me, my editors pushed me to be better, and I am finishing my internship confident in my scientific reporting ability.

To read my reporting for Mongabay, click here.

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