2007-06-16 / News

Sean Ely, Eric Fish Make Up Town Crier's 2007 Internship Team

By Ryan Schlehuber

On Main Street Tuesday, June 5, are Town Crier summer interns Eric Fish (left) and Sean Ely. Both are majoring in journalism at Michigan State University. On Main Street Tuesday, June 5, are Town Crier summer interns Eric Fish (left) and Sean Ely. Both are majoring in journalism at Michigan State University. The love of sports isn't the only thing Mackinac Island Town Crier's two summer interns have in common.

Sean Ely and Eric Fish both hail from suburbs of Detroit, Mr. Fish from Macomb and Mr. Ely from Redford. Both are studying journalism at Michigan State University in East Lansing, and both are learning how to immerse themselves into the small Mackinac Island community while learning to be wellrounded journalists, guided by Wes Maurer Jr., editor and publisher of Mackinac Island Town Crier and The St. Ignace News, and reporter Karen Gould. The two students will live and work on Mackinac Island this summer, gathering information and photographs and writing newspaper stories about life on the Island.

Mr. Fish, 22, a graduate of Dakota High School and a fifthyear senior at MSU, is a typical "puckhead," and has been a hockey fan since he was seven. When he is graduated from MSU in December, he hopes to be a sportswriter for a newspaper or magazine, or become involved in public relations for a professional or collegiate hockey team.

A sports editor and hockey writer for the MSU student newspaper, The State News, Mr. Fish had the opportunity to follow this year's Spartans hockey squad to its national championship run in April. He was on hand in St. Louis, Missouri, in April when the team clinched its first national title since 1986, beating Boston College.

This is his first visit to the Island since he was a middle school student.

He has a younger brother, Steven, 19. His father, Dale, is a postal worker. His mother, Marianne, is a speech teacher at Fox Elementary in the Chippewa Valley School District.

Mr. Ely, 20, a junior, is a graduate of Detroit Catholic Central. He was a member of the school's 2003 state football championship team.

His plan after he is graduated in 2009 is to write about his favorite sport, basketball. He hopes to become a college or professional basketball columnist for a newspaper or magazine.

Last semester, Mr. Ely was a campus reporter for The State News, covering programs such as MSU College of Law and the university's Council of Graduate Students program. When he returns to campus this fall, he will cover MSU sports.

He has a 16-year-old brother named Eric. His mother, Deborah, is an office manager for Meek-Beck & Associates, a firm representing plumbing manufacturers. His father, Ronald, is a department manager for Farmer Jack Groceries in Northville.

Mr. Ely cannot remember the last time he visited Mackinac Island, however, the Ely family has made many trips to Mackinaw City when he was younger.

The biggest adjustments both writers have endured since moving to the Island in early May is not having a mall or a shopping center in town, and learning how to make new friends.

"I'm in a fraternity at school, so I'm used to having 60 of my friends at my disposal," said Mr. Ely.

"Definitely having to adjust to a small town culture is my biggest adjustment," said Mr. Fish. "There are no movie theaters or Best Buys, so you can't just go and see the latest movie or get the latest music CD."

But not having the amenities they enjoy at home or school has given them a better perspective of what they can accomplish at the Town Crier this summer, as well as appreciate what Mackinac Island does have.

"You hear a lot of stories about corruptive journalism, about who talks to you and who doesn't," said Mr. Fish. "Here, everyone talks to you and they are willing to talk to you."

He said it is also nice to get away from the "wild," as he describes city life, and he is impressed that the small Island offers a wealth of subjects for newspaper writing.

Mr. Ely believes this summer's experience will teach him about self-discipline and independence.

"I want to broaden my senses of my knowledge of journalism and to be more confident being on my own, while having fun doing it," said Mr. Ely. "I also want to be able to distinguish a sense of writing style I can call my own."

As for Mackinac Island, "I'm enjoying the freedom here," he said. "Everyone here is their own person and the kids here are able to go around the Island without having to be watched closely by their parents."

Besides the luxury of not spending their money on gasoline, owing to the Island's ban on motorized vehicles, both writers have found many Island enjoyments.

Mr. Fish likes Mackinac Island's "nightlife," he said, especially the live musical entertainment. Myke Rise, he said, is his favorite Island musician. Mr. more about the history, folklore, and legends of hauntings on the Island.

Mr. Ely cherishes the scenic views and the frequent ferry boat rides across the Straits of Mackinac, and already feels as though he is more than just a visitor on the Island.

"I feel like we have more of a purpose here than just visiting for the summer, because we always show up for work in a dress shirt and tie," said Mr. Ely.

Both are looking forward to horseback riding and bicycling and meeting more community members.

Since 1959, the Mackinac Island Town Crier has offered an academic internship program to college students, at first as a laboratory for graduate journalism students from the University of Michigan who wanted to own their own newspaper. It is now in its 48th year and continues to be an avenue for a hands-on experience in journalism, governmental functions, and community life.

Wesley H. Maurer, then chairman of the Department of Journalism at the University of Michigan, purchased the Mackinac Island Town Crier in 1959 for the internship program.

He and his wife, Margaret, and their son and daughter-inlaw, Wesley Jr. and Mary, purchased The St. Ignace News and the Les Cheneaux Islands Weekly Wave in 1975 and continued to operate the Town Crier as a training ground for undergraduate students at the university.

Professor Maurer died in 1995 and Mrs. Maurer passed away in 2002.

The journalism program at the University of Michigan was phased out 1979 to 1986, and the Town Crier began this year to recruit students from Michigan State University, which has an accredited journalism program.

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