AU Student Accepts Award for Backpack Journalism

David Coffey (left) accepts the American University-Associated Press Foreign Internship Award from School of Communication Professor Bill Gentile. Coffey, who is finishing a graduate degree in Journalism at AU, is leaving this week for a three-month internship with the AP in Bangkok, Thailand.

AP, the world’s oldest and largest news-gathering organization, has a robust domestic internship program, but this is the first formal, foreign internship awarded to a university student. The internship came about as the result of efforts by Gentile and Santiago Lyon, AP’s Director of Photography. Gentile, a photographer and documentary filmmaker, and Lyon covered conflicts raging through Central America in the 1980s.

The AU-AP Foreign Internship is designed for students using “backpack journalism” to create content for television and the Internet. Backpack journalists use a hand-held digital video camera for a more immediate and intimate brand of storytelling than that captured by larger cameras and crews.

Coffey’s award includes a $500 honorarium from SOC Dean Larry Kirkman and $500 from Gentile. AU students may apply for the internship after taking Gentile’s classes, Foreign Correspondence and Backpack Documentary.