Buzz Keough_color

{standaloneHead}Buzz Keough_color{/standaloneHead}

At a dinner to recognize Stockton University’s scholarship winners and donors last week, I sat and talked to some future (perhaps) journalists, and thought about an old journalist who was helping to make that happen.

Sitting at the table with three of the Stockton students interning in our newsroom this fall, we talked about what they’d learned, how they felt about the experience and what they were doing next.

It was gratifying to hear that in their time with us, they’d all felt they’d been challenged and given ample opportunities to tell stories and sharpen the skills they were learning in the classroom.

They were all leaving with more confidence, an appreciation for journalism and another tool in the writer’s toolkit.

That was good to hear, especially considering, when we were restarting this scholarship/intern program last spring, we weren’t entirely sure how to proceed.

It started as we began interviewing the applicants and looking at their impressive resumes.

Today’s developing class of writers brings with them a far greater array of technical skills than journalists of past decades had, and it shows on their resumes.

They can write, take pictures, shoot, produce and edit videos, create podcasts, build websites and find sources half a world away without picking up a telephone.

What could we teach them?

A lot, it turns out — and all by adding an ancient and well-worn tool that has helped newsrooms around the world get better: the deadline.

I know, I know, everyone has deadlines. From kindergarten, we’re taught to schedule work and meet expectations. But in our business, one that still thrives on both creativity and discipline, the deadline rules.

Deadlines can both inspire and terrorize writers. To thrive in this business, one needs to get comfortable meeting them.

Deadlines join the creative vision (what you want to do) with the practical (what you can do in the time allowed), and they teach journalists how to work within the structure.

And that’s the skill professionals need. Facing them daily is the same as taking those tools learned in school and sharpening them against the rock of time.

In our group so far, that’s proved true. All have possessed different skills — one favored research, the other two make and edit videos. All have used those skills in the framework of our newsroom and produced stories they’re proud of, and improved in the process, they said.

The deadline never goes away.

Thirty years ago, Charles “Chuck” Reynolds, the former Press of Atlantic City editor and publisher, who started the scholarship fund in 1990, hired me and first instilled in me the idea of a deadline.

Reynolds loved journalism and stories and hired writers he thought could tell them, or learn to tell them.

I thought of him when the names of our first crop of interns appeared on the screen that night.

It reminded me of what we can share with each group of students — our love of telling good stories, and professionalism, so they can be better at what they choose to do.

Meanwhile, I have a deadline. We’re getting close to next spring, and there are openings available then and beyond, into fall 2019.

Interested students should send me a letter at

Contact: 609-272-7238 Twitter @buzzkeough



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