Notes to the the honorable Alexandria Ocasio CortezJaylun Hutchison
Internship: Voice of America

December 2 | These past few weeks have been extremely exhilarating. The excitement around the impeachment hearings at Voice of America can be felt in the air. My Guatemalan Press Freedom story has hit some snags and I decided to head in a different direction. Now I am writing about Nigeria and the dictator like actions that President Muhammadu Buhari has taken against members of his own state. After sharing allegedly false information about President Buhari, the primary domestic intelligence agency of Nigeria known as the Department of State Services (DSS) detained prominent journalist and former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore. Despite having met the conditions for bail, Sowore has spent over 105 days in jail since August for comments that allegedly threaten public safety and social harmony in Nigeria.

The international reaction to these actions has been very minimal, however, Nigerian citizens have taken a lot of time to describe their situation and difficulties with law enforcement on Twitter. I reached out to two journalists who have covered the story through Twitter, and through direct messages I was able to get their contact information and conduct an interview through email. In addition, I was able to talk to a VOA affiliate based in Nigeria and he was able to reach out to his contacts who were present at the time when the DSS was shooting at citizens. Though the last couple of stories I have attempted to pitch and write have fallen flat, I am very excited to have finally gotten a lead.

I am also excited that my internship and my research are so closely related to each other. Just this morning, I was finally able to conduct my interview with one of the head reporters in the British Broadcasting Corporations (BBC) about Donald Trump and his communication style on Twitter. I was so grateful for his time and he spoke very eloquently about a field that is so rapidly changing. I’ve found that many scholars in communication tend to dismiss the significance of Twitter as a medium for monumental influence. The way this journalist has been able to navigate and gain understanding regarding the internet was inspiring to me and he had so much insight and context that really added to my secondary research.

Jaylun doing homework with friendsThough I am starting to get a bit daunted by the amount of work I have to complete before the conclusion of the program, I have been so successfully challenged and I am so grateful. I was able to push my limits in what I felt I was able to accomplish, and the ambitious hungry energy of Washington, DC only has propelled me further to make the most of my time. We are hosting an event this Wednesday at 9:30 on Freedom Plaza as an initiative of Pay Our Interns and I will be speaking on the Leslie Marshall Show of American Progress in reflection after the event. I have been so honored to work with so many passionate and smart young people during my time here, and I am excited to see what is going to come from this.

Blog History

Jaylun and his classmates at a site visitJaylun Hutchison
Journalism & New Media
Foreign Policy

November 11 | We went to the American Foreign Services Association (AFSA) and had the opportunity to hear from one of the communication directors who constructs the Daily Media Digest. We had a conversation about the need for either an online program or actual person to construct a daily digest. The AFSA reaches across the world and serves as representation for US representatives like diplomats. Our professor had us create our own digests in class, since as journalism and communication scholars, we will most likely have to do that as a part of our profession.

I was fortunate since the start of my internship at Voice of America (VOA) required me to create a digest rooted in Press Freedom. Over the past decade (increasingly over the past 5 years) the ability for journalists to cover stories and accurately convey information to the public has been attacked globally. From the United States President degrading media credibility, to the Guatemalan President defunding a UN organization and failing to establish a journalism protection agency, press freedom is under attack. VOA has a Press Freedom segment on their english website that I have been contributing to.

Jaylun in classOne of my supervisors had me create a digest of Press Freedom Digest that was sourced from VOA, ordered from newest to oldest. Though it seemed satisfactory for my office, I ended up creating a much longer list than the original assignment. The office has been working hard in light of the activity happening down the block on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. In light of the impeachment hearings and all the press spiraling around that, there hasn’t been a dull moment. I had the opportunity to watch the live broadcast of Straight Talk Africa, which is a large contributor to VOA’s 250 million viewers globally.

I had a chance to meet the host and managing editor of Straight Talk Africa named Shaka Ssali. We spoke about the economic state of Africa and the mass corruption in several governments across the continent. He spoke to me about how rich in resources the land is, and the imbalance between the items that are imported and exported. My supervisor told me that this upcoming week, I will have the opportunity to shadow a couple anchors broadcasting to the US and a few countries in Latin America.

Jaylun listening to a talkCurrently I’m working on a pitch for Press Freedom that has to do with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and the mechanisms that fail to protect law abiding citizens and residents. The research process is intense, but it adds to my background knowledge for my research project that I’m conducting this semester. My research that focuses on Donald Trump’s Twitter usage which has been linked to the decline in credibility of print and digital news media. Ultimately, for a concrete conclusion to be drawn, data would have to be compared before, during, and after the administration concludes. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and United States President Donald Trump share their disdain for the media, which has been interesting. I am curious to hear the perspective of Guatemalan citizens and their take of how President Morales’ has handled the media. I’m excited to continue my internship, check back in later for updates.

Jaylun at the British Broadcasting CorporationJaylun Hutchison
Journalism & New Media
Foreign Policy

October 21 | Over the past couple weeks, I had the opportunity to go to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) where I had the opportunity to talk with producers, video journalists, and see where the magic happens. I am a huge fan of a lot of the work that the BBC produces, and have spent a lot of time watching. The woman who was giving the tour showed us a piece she produced about an incredibly interesting family. A child of a lesbian couple and sperm donor pursed a relationship with several of her half siblings. The story gets more complex as the young woman learns that she had twenty half siblings. The producer giving the tour told us about how highlighting the hook at the beginning, rather than the traditional story arch, is the most effective way to present a story in the digital era.

Jaylun's classmates at the British Broadcasting CorporationThe trip to the BBC was extremely enlightening for me. The producer and video journalist who concluded the tour with us were inspiring, partially because of their age. They were three or four years older than I was, following their dreams, setting a high bar, and succeeding. We spoke about various pathways that journalists in their office go through to get to their various careers. Many broadcasters get there through radio, field training, traditional graduate programs, or a combination of the three. This trip really emboldened my longing to work in broadcasting.

I had hoped to start at Voice of America (VOA) already, however, due to third party delays in confirming me through a very thorough background check, I have yet to begin. I have been in close contact with my internship professor. In the meantime, I have been making significant progress in my research. While I’d like to be a bit further in my research, I’ve found so many incredible sources that happen to be dense. As more research is done in the arena of digital communication, decrypting the way social behavior has transitioned on to the digital landscape is more accessible in academia.

Contrary to what many veterans in the news media of yesterday say about online news and it’s exclusivity to millennials and generation Z aged folks, I think it's increasingly necessary to understand these digital mediums. During the BBC visit, our tour guide noted that I could email her and get the contact information of the BBC's social media supervisor, who specializes in Twitter and Youtube engagement. I intend on taking her up on this. The perspective of someone who works in social media at that level has heightened insight regarding patterns and disruption of digital space.

I am so excited to expand and continue my research. Thanks to AU’s robust online library as a resource for academic journals and other sources, I have found a plethora of secondary sources that frame my question in the context of other scholars. Aside from research, I’ve been receiving a bunch of invitations to several international embassies. Hopefully in the coming weeks, I’ll have the opportunity to attend.

Jayun at the US CapitolJaylun Hutchison
Journalism & New Media
Foreign Policy

October 7 | Over the past two weeks we have had opportunities during our seminar classes to travel off campus and meet experts in fields that we are covering. In the coming weeks we are expected to visit the BBC headquarters, and meet with an editor and publisher for NPR. Already in my foreign policy course, we had the opportunity to travel to the CATO Institute and to participate in a conversation about the shift that occurred in American global engagement after the 9/11 al-Qaeda attack. I was happy to see the diversity of opinions and accountability that the panelist showed.

For my Journalism and New Media course, we had the privilege of sitting in on the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, which primarily services adults in Washington, D.C. Because the majority, if not the entirety of the school are adults from primarily Latin American countries, courses are taught in Spanish with a plethora of English language learning (ELL) classes available. Our professor really conveyed the importance of communicating to appropriate audiences and ways that lack of communication can impede growing migrant communities. I am a part of an organization on campus called United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) that believes in the concept of collective liberation. I went to the Voice of American headquarters for the first time this week to finalize my paperwork and get fingerprinted for security. I met my supervisor and some of the staff members I will be working with for the upcoming semester. In the spirit of collective liberation, I was pleasantly surprised to see the amount of resources devoted to their African, Caribbean, European, Middle Eastern and Asian offices. The nation of Haiti's primary news broadcasting service is VOA Creole. Access to trustworthy news is the VOA’s goal for communities around the world, which I think is incredibly inspiring.

Jaylun with friends at the National Portrait Gallery The temperature is slowly dropping, although I am eternally grateful it isn’t snowing already like my homeschool. One day it’s 90 degrees and humid and the next 4:30 and 60 degrees. Remembering to keep a jacket with me has become an essential part of succeeding at this point. I recently met with my former supervisor at AFSCME for coffee the other day, where we discussed career goals for the future. In addition, she set up some opportunities for me to network with other communication heads around the city including their graphic designer who is an AU graduate.

At this point I’m feeling optimistic about the rest of the semester. I have been conducting research on my project targeted at finding out more information regarding the President’s use of Twitter as a medium for communicating updates on foreign policy. Is this the most effective use of this medium? Could an alternative service prove more effective for the President's purpose? I spent time in the library learning about digital communication methodology. One of my favorite professors from my home school has done significant research into topics related to digital communities, meme culture, and fandoms. I think with a bit more background research, I might be prepared to ask her for an interview as an expert in the subject matter. Ultimately, I am excited. Continue checking back in for future updates!

Washington Semester ambassador Jaylun HutchisonJaylun Hutchison
Journalism & New Media
Foreign Policy

September 23 | My name is Jaylun Hutchison (he, him, his) and I’m a senior at Gonzaga University (Go Zags!). I’m pursuing a double major in Political Science and Communication Studies, although I have recently been finding myself interested in journalism and news media. Here at American University my focus is in both Journalism and News Media, and Foreign Policy. I’ve been in the District of Columbia over the summer working an internship with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). I’m excited to start an internship in the investigative newsroom at Voice of America. I’ve yet to start working, but the courses that I’ve been attending have been engaging and exciting.

My Global Communications professor encouraged us to check out the ‘Dupont Underground’ organization that is rooted in the multidimensional expression of art. Essentially, the events and exhibits that Dupont Underground hosts are held in old repurposed subway/metro stations. The exhibits feature a ton of art from a plethora of diverse and talented artists from DC and around the world. DC’s extensive art scene is something that I have grown to love and appreciate. The culture and range of people here seem to encourage beautiful and dynamic street art that might be literally beneath your feet.

On the shuttle, I had the opportunity to meet members of AU’s Black Student Union (BSU), and this past week they had their welcome week. In an effort to expand my community here, I went to the BSU’s open mic, meet and greet of black faculty and staff, and a few other events. I loved the energy of the students and the faculty made themselves available to me.

Washington Semester ambassador Jaylun Hutchison with cohortEven though I am a senior technically, being on a new campus is always an adjustment and I’m glad to have a community of students that will be able to relate to me. Since having been on campus, I’ve had the opportunity to attend events and made a few friends pursuing an undergraduate degree from American. Both the students in the Washington Semester Program and the general body have been welcoming and friendly.

The shuttle system has also encouraged more cross campus exchange. It’s really enriching to hear the opinions and perspectives of the students that are not from the US, especially in the political seminars. Contemporary foreign policy is so interesting, right now especially. Listening to debates rooted in perspectives of how the US engages in global affairs from international students has been such a rewarding and stimulating experience so far.

I’m really treasuring the connections I’ve made thus far and hope to continue having valuable moments like these. I intend to visit the Dupont Underground by the end of this week, and am so excited to begin at the Voice of America next week.