2009-06-20 / Top News

Journalism Students Jane Alexander, Kerri Jo Molitor Serve as Town Crier Interns

By Karen Gould

At right: Mackinac Island Town Crier summer interns Jane Alexander (left) and Kerri Jo Molitor make their daily rounds, checking paper supplies in newspaper stands Wednesday, June 3. At right: Mackinac Island Town Crier summer interns Jane Alexander (left) and Kerri Jo Molitor make their daily rounds, checking paper supplies in newspaper stands Wednesday, June 3. Tracking down a story lead and following school children through the woods on a nature walk are all in a day's work for Mackinac Island Town Crier interns Jane Alexander and Kerri Jo Molitor.

For 15 weeks, the aspiring reporters will follow a 50-year tradition, serving as summer interns reporting on city meetings, writing about local news, covering social events, and writing stories about life in the community. The Town Crier has offered academic internships to college students since 1959.

This summer, both interns are journalism majors at Michigan State University, and they love living on the Island.

Home for Ms. Alexander is Commerce Township. She will be a senior this fall and, along with her journalism major, she is specializing in Spanish. She eventually hopes to become an environmental reporter or work in public relations for an environmental company.

Ms. Alexander, 20, was exposed to reporting at an early age. Her family subscribes to six newspapers and she said they listen to National Public Radio more than they watch television.

An only child, she was reared to understand the importance of knowing what is going on in the world.

Her father, Henry, is a roofer in a family company and her mother, Mary, is a secretary in the infectious disease department at Botsford General Hospital in Farmington Hills.

At school, Ms. Alexander is a disc jockey and reads the news at the student-run radio station, IMPACT, working from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. She likes to talk a lot, so the job suits her, she says. Students request a variety of songs, she said, from popular to jazz to independent underground music called indie rock.

She also is a secretary at Michigan State University Agricultural Experiment Station.

She plans to look for a job after graduation in California or Oregon, which is near relatives.

"I think I'm going to jump ship on Michigan for awhile," she said. "Try to go out and have some adventures first. I think, eventually, I'll come back to Michigan."

From following journalists' careers, students note that reporters move from newspaper to newspaper.

"I'm good with that," she said. "That's part of the reason I like journalism. I want to have some adventures. I want to have some stories."

She has spent many summers at the Higgins Lake cottage of her grandparents, Elizabeth and Robert Alexander, and this year appreciates being in the north and living and working on Mackinac Island.

"I love the small town atmosphere. I love that this is a good paper to start out at because everyone in the community knows what's going on and if they don't know the answer to something, they can point you to someone who does. Everyone really cares what's going on and they can help you."

Her colleague, Ms. Molitor, 19, of Morley, is a junior specializing in environmental reporting.

She likes the process of reporting, writing the article, and then the satisfaction of finishing the story.

"I just kind of stumbled into journalism," she said. "I haven't been interested in it my whole life. I was just told I was a good writer in high school and I thought that meant I could do journalism, but I learned that meant nothing at all."

Her mother, Kelli, is a school cook at Stanwood Elementary and her father, Dave, is an ironworker now at a job site in North Dakota. She has a 14-year-old brother, Andy, a half-brother, Darrick, and a half-sister, Dannielle. Darrick is a college student in California and Dannielle is married and the mother of two children.

During the school year, Ms. Molitor is a desk receptionist for the four dormitories in the university's South Complex.

After graduation, she plans to look for a job at a newspaper, magazine, or in public relations for a nonprofit environmental organization.

The experience to be gained from an internship at the Town Crier, said Ms. Molitor, drew her to seek the job over other internships. Writing for the paper and sharing the responsibility for filling it each week, she said, offered more opportunity to learn and to cover a variety of issues and events. She already admits to being surprised by all that happens in a small town. She worried about finding enough to write about each week. As it turns out, said Ms. Molitor, she often has a long list of potential story ideas.

"I couldn't ask for a better summer," she said. "I've got friends who are stuck in accounting firms in a cubicle all day. I'm on an island with all these nice people. I get to not just be here, but I get to be part of the community."

Editor's Note: Working for the newspaper with Ms. Molitor and Ms. Alexander this summer is Karen Gould, a fulltime reporter for the Town Crier and The St. Ignace News.

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