Communications Studies

Department Spotlight

Whitworth Senior Gains Valuable Skills, Experience as CNN Intern

Senior Emily Brandler gained firsthand knowledge of and experience working for a major news outlet when she spent summer 2004 as an intern with the weekend production team at CNN in Atlanta, Ga. Brandler worked as a production assistant for CNN's Weekend Primetime News program, which is produced by Whitworth alumna Jen Pifer, '92, whom Brandler met when Pifer was teaching a Politics and Media class at Whitworth during Jan Term 2004.

Pifer supervised Brandler's internship and saw to it that she spent time in all the major departments, including the international, national, and political desks. During her time at CNN, Brandler, a general communication-studies major and political-studies minor, selected elements for newscasts, helped edit interviews, compiled research for anchors, assisted producers in the control room, and participated in story-idea meetings.

President Reagan died on Brandler's first day in the newsroom. As a result, she witnessed firsthand how a major news organization deals with breaking news of international magnitude. She updated the anchors throughout the day as new information came in over the wires and put together a research packet on Reagan for the anchors to use.

On another occasion, Brandler selected video clips and assisted during editing sessions for a piece Pifer produced about a Somali Bantu refugee family. The family recently resettled in America through the help of World Relief and Wheaton College. The piece, "Flight to Freedom," aired several times on CNN throughout July.

Brandler also attended seminars conducted by top news executives, including CNN's president, whom Brandler later met. Some lessons Brandler learned while in Atlanta include the value of accuracy, the importance of risk-taking, and the significance of internships to a student's career prospects and networking resources.

As one of only a few interns from Washington State to work at CNN this summer, Brandler introduced Whitworth to news professionals from all over the world. She also represented the Christian faith and values she has continued to cultivate during her time at Whitworth. At the conclusion of her internship, Brandler was offered the opportunity to apply for full-time positions within the CNN news organization upon completing her communications-studies degree in May 2005.

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