Knight internship profile: Nick Swyter

Journalism / Article

Applications are opening soon for Knight Foundation’s summer internship program, which offers competitive, paid 10-week internships for college students and recent grads.

A former Knight intern turned Knight employee, Nick Swyter, talks about his experience as an intern in summer 2014 and his current role as an associate on Knight’s Journalism team.

What were your responsibilities as an intern in the journalism program? How did your internship experience help you gain a better understanding of Knight’s work?

My internship with Knight’s journalism department included a mix of writing and research assignments. Some were focused on how Knight does its work, but others were focused on broader topics such as innovation, education and business models in journalism.

What I appreciated most about my internship was being able to pitch my own projects to my supervisor, Eric Newton. He was, and continues to be, interested in improving journalism education through the “teaching hospital” approach. As somebody who was going to university at the time, I offered to design a curriculum I felt would work at as many schools as possible. He agreed and worked with me to publish a story on my recommendations.

Did your experience at Knight relate to your studies in school?

My internship at Knight did relate to my studies, but the internship gave me the opportunity to think about my journalism major in a vastly different way. I was determined to become an on-camera broadcast journalist before my internship. Doing research on journalism that relies on data, graphics and interactives fascinated me.

Once I returned to university from my internship, I started to take more risks on my broadcast packages. My stories included more motion graphics and they were produced for a mobile-first audience. I was having so much fun producing those stories that I eventually lost interest in being an on-camera broadcast journalist.

How did you end up working for Knight Foundation? What are your responsibilities as a journalism program associate?

I was working as an associate editor at a Miami magazine when my current supervisor asked me if I was interested in applying for the position. This job excites me because it’s never repetitive. My primary responsibility is to oversee and prepare grants for projects focused on the First Amendment. But I’m also called on to organize events and workshops, run logistics for grant challenges, promote the work of our grantees, assess business plans and analyze data.

What was the most valuable part of your internship experience?


Even though my internship was primarily focused on journalism across the country, working at Knight exposed me to parts of Miami I previously didn’t know. Even though I had been a student at the University of Miami for three years, I hadn’t explored the city very much. The internship exposed me to the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its exciting arts scene.

Any advice for our future interns?

Stay in touch with your fellow interns. You never know how or when you’ll run into them again. In addition to building friendships, you’re likely to become strong advocates for each other’s careers.  

What’s the first thing you do in the morning when you get to work?

Since I work in the journalism department, I set some time each day to read news from across the country and world. A lot of the news I read is about the journalism industry, but I also like to check in on what’s being covered in local and nonprofit newsrooms – and how it’s presented. I’ve been told that I subscribe to far too many newsletters.

How has your role at Knight transformed since becoming an intern?

I’m now focused on larger projects that last longer than a few summer months. I can also take a larger leadership role on projects I’m involved with.

What is one of the most enjoyable parts about being part of the Knight team?

I’m able to work with ambitious people who really care about improving their communities. This goes for organizations in our network, but also for the Knight staff.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself:

I helped to write and perform an original Christmas musical. It had a rapping Santa. It was odd.

You’ve lived in many parts of the world. How has your global experience shaped your role at Knight?

In the context of journalism, living in different parts of the world exposed me to countless ways communities receive and share news. Technology preferences and capabilities vary from country to country, so the news is likely to look different. At the same time, there’s ambitious and innovative journalism being produced in places that don’t share our tradition of a free, fair and independent press. I think these are all important things to study as we find ways to build a future for local news.

Interested in applying to Knight’s internship program? See details and watch for openings here.