Investigative Internship

The Better Government Association — a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on government accountability in Illinois — is launching a new internship program and seeking applicants for two paid internships with the BGA’s investigative reporting team, beginning in June of 2020.

The two positions are part time (20 hours per week) and will pay stipends of $6,000 ($1,000 per month) each for six months. Interns will work out of the BGA’s offices in downtown Chicago and alongside BGA reporters. Previous BGA interns have worked on investigative projects from beginning to end, spending months scouring, organizing and cleaning governmental databases, creating data visuals, conducting reporting, writing memos, helping draft stories and earning bylines.

About Us

Established in 1923, the BGA is one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit newsrooms. We focus on transparency, efficiency and accountability in government in Chicago and across Illinois. Our work appears on our website as well as online, in print and on television with journalistic partners. In recent years, the BGA has partnered with scores of news organizations throughout Illinois, including WBEZ (NPR’s affiliate in Chicago), the Chicago Sun-Times, NBC-5 Chicago and Crain’s Chicago Business. We are also the Illinois franchisee for PolitiFact.

Recent BGA investigations have focused on:

(This story was done with the assistance of interns)

About The Work

The BGA is committed to providing a positive and productive learning experience for investigative interns. While the responsibilities of interns will depend on the needs of the investigative team, assigned tasks may include:

  • Working directly with reporters on long-term projects and ideas

  • Traveling to courthouses to pull records

  • Filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests

  • Developing sources

  • Outreach, interviews and fact checking with subjects of stories

  • Attending news conferences

  • Amassing and crunching data and helping with graphics

  • Drafting memos for reporters and contributing to story drafts

About The Program

The BGA is flexible regarding the intern schedules. However, each intern will be expected to devote a minimum of 20 hours per week to the program. This commitment will lead to an opportunity for bylines on major projects alongside BGA staff reporters.

We anticipate and hope a stipend of $6,000 for six months ($1,000 per month) of work will result in a larger and more diverse pool of applicants. We strongly encourage applicants who are people of color, LGBTQ, women, people with disabilities, and/or formerly incarcerated people, and a college degree is not required.

Interns will work closely with BGA investigative staff and will receive a minimum of one hour of direct supervision from editors each week, plus several hours of direct management from BGA reporters. The cohort will have full access to BGA supplies, materials and investigative resources.

This internship program is new to the BGA and is the result of a generous gift from Chicago Tribune investigative reporter David Jackson. In 2019, Jackson established the Gary Marx Journalism Fund to honor Chicago investigative reporter Gary Marx, a longtime reporting partner of Jackson’s who still works with Jackson at the Chicago Tribune. Jackson said the goal of the fund is to inspire a new generation of investigative reporters.

Gary Marx began his career as a war correspondent in Africa, uncovered human rights abuses in Latin America and then returned to Chicago to expose prison murders, local political corruption and sexual violence against public school students.

In addition to the BGA, others receiving contributions from the Gary Marx fund in 2020 are Columbia College in Chicago and Investigative Editors and Editors/National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.

Throughout their time with the BGA, the interns will be given the opportunity to meet with the program’s supporters to discuss their experience.

Interns may work with media partners and be given an opportunity to observe and participate in media collaboration.

Deadline

To qualify for the internships that begins in June 2020, applications must be received by Friday, March 6, 2020. Applicants can either be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Spring 2020 graduates will also be considered. Applicants not enrolled in higher education programs or those who do not have a college degree are also encouraged to apply.

Apply

Please send the following to bga_investigations@bettergov.org, care of John Chase, Director of Investigations:

  • Cover letter

  • Resume

  • 3 to 5 writing samples or other examples of your work

  • 2 to 3 references

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