The 2018 POLITICO Journalism Institute (PJI) fellowship program starts this week, and American University School of Communication graduate Aya Elamroussi is one of 13 members of the 2018 cohort. PJI is an initiative supporting diversity in Washington area newsrooms in partnership with American University & Maynard Institute. The program offers students hands-on training in government and political reporting through classes as well as hands-on experience and an inside look at the POLITICO newsroom.
Elamroussi has a passion for issues including civil rights, social justice, immigration and minorities. She said, “I aspire to create my own digital news website. I believe I have the right leadership skills to have the potential for me to grow into an Editor-in-Chief." Seeing someone like herself in a leadership role could be empowering to other aspiring journalists.
While a student at AU, Elamroussi interned with Voice of America (VOA) and The Afro-American. She adds, “At VOA, I learned so much about research, video and setting up interviews. With The Afro, I got an internship my second semester senior year, which turned into my current freelance position when I graduated (with a BA in journalism) in December 2017. I research, pitch and report stories." She also does Facebook Live events and interviews people on camera.
She said, “As a Muslim, Egyptian/American immigrant woman, there aren’t a lot of reporters in U.S. news media who look like me, come from my background or share my experience growing up in the U.S. I think it's crucial for newsrooms to be diverse because they should reflect the audience they are reporting on and to. More importantly, diversity in journalism is essential because many stories are told best by reporters who fully grasp the nuance of a particular community or issue. When stories are told by that type of keen understanding, their impact is not only stronger but more positive as well.”
Elamroussi has been working a freelance journalist for the past few months, and has learned a lot about her strengths and weaknesses as a reporter. A diligent reader of POLITICO, she is excited to go behind the scenes and learn more about producing news stories that are meaningful, and most importantly, real.
When asked about her hopes for PJI she explains, “I hope to learn how to report on issues with a fresh, new angle. More specifically, I want to delve into learning about how to best research, report and confirm the different types of impact a story can have. I also look forward to learning from experts in the field of political reporting during a remarkable, unpredictable time in political history in America.”
Elamroussi first heard about PJI from SOC Professor Rodger Streitmatter. After applying unsuccessfully while still a student, her persistence paid off this year.
"Expect failure," Elamroussi advised journalists trying to improve their craft. "Don’t expect to get it right the first time. Messing up is OK, and employers know that. But you have to show genuine effort toward acquiring the necessary skills that will make you an asset anywhere you apply." She also said students should take advantage of the professionals and resources around them. She added, "They all may not be a direct link to a job or an internship, but their experience is gold. And that gold is yours to mine if you choose to treasure it."