Palm Beach Atlantic Journalism Student Interns at South Florida’s NPR Station
Amber Amortegui is a Johnson Scholar attending Palm Beach Atlantic University, a core grantee partner of Johnson Scholarship Foundation. This article is shared with permission.
As an intern for WLRN, Amber Amortegui regularly reports for the top-ranked public ration station in the state.
The senior journalism major and incoming editor-in-chief of The Beacon Today persistently pursued the internship for more than a year by building up her resume and connecting with the station’s news staff. Amortegui, of Davie, Florida, landed one of two paid internships at the station in a highly-competitive environment.
She has covered a protest in Fort Lauderdale, the reopening of a local bowling alley following the COVID-19 shutdown and a virtual meeting of the Florida Board of Governors, which governs the state’s 12 public universities.
Amortegui impressed WLRN Editorial Director Alicia Zuckerman with her willingness to jump in. She is not shy about pitching ideas during daily news meetings, Zuckerman said, and she quickly forged a working relationship with her fellow intern. The two are collaborating on an upcoming piece about how Gen Z uses social media for activism.
“She had a lot of ideas of her own. She asked a lot of good questions,” Zuckerman said of Amortegui. “I’ve been really impressed with how proactive she’s been. She’s also been really open to learning in the process.”
Before starting the internship, Amortegui possessed digital editing skills from the podcast she records and produces for The Beacon Today, Zuckerman said. In the social media piece, for example, she incorporated the sounds of various social media alerts.
Amortegui credits PBA journalism professors Israel Balderas and Danilda Martinez for preparing students to create print, audio and video packages. She was familiar with some of WLRN’s audio recorders because PBA owns the same equipment.
At the same time, the internship has given her opportunities to work through challenges that she hasn’t faced in the classroom. At the bowling alley, for example, music blared overhead as she interviewed a couple playing in a senior league. At the protest, someone dribbled a basketball nearby as she recorded one of the chants.
“I’m really glad I was able to get this type of internship, because it is what I want to do,” said Amortegui, whose end goal is to work for a National Public Radio station or a syndicated podcast.
Amortegui has helped WLRN reach a broader audience by paying close attention to how her peers get their news – which is typically not through national media – and relaying what she learns to editors and reporters, Zuckerman said.
Amortegui said she’s learned both journalism and leadership skills from observing the team at WLRN, specifically Zuckerman and News Director Terence Shepherd.
“It’s a lot of teamwork. They don’t act like there’s a hierarchy,” Amortegui said. “They’re always open to hearing reporters’ ideas. They encourage us to take risks in our storytelling.”
She said she enjoys providing a valuable public service – helping listeners make sense of the news in a time of chaos and confusion.
“We’re called to do our job, inform the public and state facts accurately,” Amortegui said.
Sarah Peters serves as Multimedia Writer/Editor for University Relations and Marketing at Palm Beach Atlantic University. PBA is a core grantee partner of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation.