Journalism institute provides real-world opportunity

Laura C. Morel '11

One of 23 students selected by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists for the New York Times Student Journalism Institute in Miami.

Laura C. Morel ’11

Alison O’Leary Murray
January 19, 2011

During winter break, some students go skiing. Others sleep until noon. Emerson Print and Multimedia Journalism major Laura C. Morel ’11 was reporting on a murder.

As one of 23 students selected by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists for the New York Times Student Journalism Institute in Miami, Morel had many options during the 14-day residency program. She wrote six stories, including a feature about challenges faced by disabled students at Miami Dade College. She also did some web production, and decided to do wire editing on a Friday. “I saved it until Friday, because crazy things happen on Fridays. I know; I’m from Miami,” she said.

When a report came in that a golfer had been shot at a Broward County country club, Morel and her mentor, Boston Globe reporter Erin Ailworth, took action. They ran the victim’s name through a records search and found that he had several drug-related arrests. They pursued information from the sheriff’s office. And then they got a break.

“Laura started talking to these guys at the golf course, and one of them was the victim’s cousin, who invited us to his aunt’s house nearby,” recalled Ailworth. “Laura talked her way in. She handled it like she’d been doing it forever. I know professionals who wouldn’t have gotten in the door. Laura did a fabulous job on this story.”

“She’s both a motivated and a talented student. She’s passionate about journalism, yet compassionate about those she writes about. She has enormous potential and a lot of talent.”

Despite previous experience interning at the Miami Herald last summer and producing web content for more than a year at the Globe’s website, Boston.com, Morel was exhilarated by her two-week experience at the Institute, calling it the most intense of her nascent career. “It was totally worth the 15-hour days and overdosing on Starbucks coffee,” she said.

At Emerson, Journalism Professor Jerry Lanson looks forward to having Morel in his feature writing class this semester. “She’s both a motivated and a talented student,” Lanson said. “She’s passionate about journalism, yet compassionate about those she writes about. She has enormous potential and a lot of talent.”

Morel plans to intern at the Dallas Morning News in Texas for three months following graduation this spring.