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 2021.
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. If there isn’t a stay-at-home order due to the pandemic, interns will work out of the BGA’s offices in downtown Chicago and alongside BGA reporters. But when the BGA staff is working remotely, so will interns. 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 the BGA 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:
An examination of coronavirus spending by Chicago Public Schools that launched an internal investigation
An unprecedented investigation into the Cook County Court system and judges, including a massive datavisual breakdown of historical data
Years of mismanagement and scandal at O’Hare International Airport
Chicago’s dubious recycling program
A look at environmental enforcement in Chicago under Rahm Emanuel (This story was done with the assistance of interns.)
How suburban police escape discipline for shootings
An examination of suburban poverty through the lens of one small town
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
Writing PolitiFact fact-checks of statements made by public officials
Traveling to courthouses to pull records
Filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests
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
Working with media partners and being given an opportunity to observe and participate in media collaboration
About the Program This internship has a flexible start date. 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.
The BGA is committed to diversity and inclusion and strongly encourages applicants of color, LGBTQ, women, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, and/or those from immigrant backgrounds to apply for this internship. This internship includes a monthly stipend of $1,000 for the six month period.
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 began in 2020 and is the result of a generous gift from David Jackson, a former investigative reporter at the Chicago Tribune who joined the BGA in August. A four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and one-time Pulitzer winner, Jackson established the Gary Marx Journalism Fund to honor Chicago investigative reporter Gary Marx, a longtime reporting partner who still works at the Chicago Tribune. 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. Jackson said the goal of the fund is to inspire a new generation of investigative reporters.
Throughout their time with the BGA, the interns will be given the opportunity to meet with the program’s supporters to discuss their experience.
Deadline To qualify for the internships that begins in June 2021, applications must be received by Friday, March 5, 2021. Applicants can either be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Spring 2021 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, care of Alpa B. Pandya, Executive Assistant/Board Liaison, BGA: 1) Cover letter 2) Resume 3) 3 to 5 writing samples or other examples of your work 4) 2 to 3 references