Geoff Hansen is the Photo Editor at the Valley News in Lebanon, N.H. Hansen started at the Valley News in 1989 as a staff photographer. He was eventually promoted to Chief Photographer and was named Photo Editor in 1998. While in college at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, he did two internships, the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass., and the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette. He also worked at the college newspaper, the Minnesota Daily.
Patrick Fallon, a student at the University of Missouri, was the 2010 summer intern at the Valley News. View his intern diary here.
Taylor Gilbert, 12, takes off her Nomex racing suit as she packs up to go home to Cornish, N.H., after her second race at the Twin State Auto Speedway in Claremont, N.H., Friday evening, June 4, 2010. (Valley News 2010 summer intern/Patrick T. Fallon)
VS: What makes an intern candidate stand out during the application review process?
Hansen: “We look for interns whose portfolio is unique, yet we can see the possibilties for newspaper work. It’s a portfolio that walks the line between being artistic yet is journalistic. The cover letter is also something we carefully consider — we want to find out what the applicant know about us, and is looking to gain from the internship.”
VS: What mistakes do you see students making in the application process?
Hansen: “Letters addressed to someone else, mispellings, portfolios that don’t open on our computers.”
VS: What are the expectations of your interns? Â How have those expectations changed over the years?
Hansen: “I don’t think the expectations have changed over the years — we know some interns have less experience than others, but we hold them to the same standard as the staff photographers. However, if mistakes are made, we understand it’s part of the learning process.”
A lifeguard keeps an eye out asÂ children jump off the diving board at Veteran’s Memorial swimming pool in Lebanon, N.H., Tuesday afternoon, June 22, 2010. The pool opened for the summer last week. (Valley News 2010 summer intern/Patrick T. Fallon)
VS: How is your internship structured?
Hansen: “Interns get a day or two of training, then they’re off and running. Between myself and the staff photographers, we give feedback every day and help them learn. At the beginning of the internship, I make sure the intern knows they need to be motivated and get out into the community to find stories to tell.”
VS: How have you been able to keep your internship from being cut?
Hansen: “We pay a livable wage for the internship, but for us, it’s far more cost-efficient than hiring out freelancers to cover staffing gaps. Those in charge of the budget appreciate the quality work the interns bring to the newspaper.”
VS: What value do you place on your interns and the opportunity to offer internships?
Hansen: “Interns bring energy, enthusiasm and knowledge about new techniques to the newspaper. We appreciate the photographs they make while they’re here, and enjoy seeing them grow as they continue with their careers (some of our past interns work for National Geographic, St. Peterburg Times, Concord Monitor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, New London Day, freelance in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington DC and the Ukraine, and are Fullbright scholars from Germany and Romania).”
A pole vaulter collides with the pole during the track and field meet at Lebanon High School, Wednesday afternoon, May 19, 2010 in Lebanon, N.H. (Valley News 2010 summer intern/Patrick T. Fallon)
VS: Talk about how you were influenced/shaped as a young professional or student.
Hansen: “When I was in college, I had a mentor through the school who gave me excellent career advice about getting a first job in the industry. I also learned from the photographers and editors I worked with on my internships, and learned of the work routine of being a full-time newspaper photographer.”
VS: What have you learned from interns?
Hansen: “Interns’ enthusiasm remind us all how lucky we are to be working in newspapers. We are telling new stories every day, whether it’s a single picture or in a multiple-part series. They break us out of our routine.”
VS: What advice do you have for interns?
Hansen: “Don’t lose faith. Lately, I’ve been surprised to hear from students that they think newspapers are a dead end, that freelancing is the way to go. I’m probably biased, but I think one of the best opportunities for documentary photography is at a newspaper. Even located in a rural are like we are, there are countless stories in the community to tell.”
VS: In the past, candidates have been passed over, or selected interns have been let go from their positions, because of conduct during or prior to the internship (i.e. legal, ethical or professional). What expectations for professional conduct do you place on candidates and interns that you select?
Hansen: “We expect the same professionalism from the interns as others have on staff. We keep an eye out for problems (which are mostly caption errors) and address them promptly. We’ve been fortunate to have interns who follow our standards and have not had to let anyone go.”
VS: What is the deadline for your internship and how long does it last?
Hansen: “Our next internship will be six months long, running from Jan. to June 2011. The deadline for applications is October 15, 2010. It is posted on the NPPA’s Job Information Bank.”
Andy Parntaprasert looks out the window of his uncle’s home while recovering from leukemia treatments at his uncle’s home in Springfield, Vt., Wednesday afternoon, August 4, 2010. The Parntapraserts are staying with relatives, Pete and Manivarn Buscemi, who are unemployed as a result of the economic crash, while their home is being renovated by family and friends in order to make it safe to live in for Andy, who has a weakened immune system after his chemotherapy.Â (Valley News 2010 summer intern/Patrick T. Fallon)