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Following Their Lede

Journalism student Taylor Dungjen immerses herself in the field beloved by her family.

Date: 9/24/2009
By: Kim Burdett
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Provided by Taylor Dungjen
Journalism is in Taylor Dungjen’s blood. Her dad was a journalist. Her grandfather—or “opa” as she calls him—was a journalist as well.

Taylor Dungjen.
Taylor Dungjen spent her summer in Portland, Ore. interning for the Oregonian. Here she poses with a moose at a restaurant in Cannon Beach when her parents came for a visit.

But when she originally applied to University of Cincinnati, Dungjen planned on going into public relations. It was a phone call from her aunt—the editor of a woman’s lifestyle magazine—that made her change her mind.

“My aunt, who has been a journalist for 35 years, called me and said, ‘No niece of mine will do PR,’” Dungjen recalls with a laugh.

So when she arrived in McMicken College of Arts and Sciences from Wadsworth, Ohio, she enrolled as a journalism major and hasn’t looked back since.

The city of Portland, Dungjen says, was so much fun because the city was clean and very laid back. To see other photos she took on her trip, visit her Flickr account.

Dungjen, a fourth-year senior who is minoring in history, is this year’s editor-in-chief of the News Record, UC’s independent student newspaper. In 2008, she interned for Lee Magazine, and was named the 2009 UC Scripps Howard Foundation recipient earlier this year. With the foundation’s $3,000 stipend, Dungjen was able to spend 10 weeks this summer interning at the features desk of the Oregonian—a competitive internship program which enlisted students from many top-rated journalism programs.

“It was a bit intimidating at first,” Dungjen says. “I didn’t have as much experience in long features as I did in hard news, so it was rough at first. Lots of rewriting.”

She adds, “But I got to cover so many different things. And you get a chance to actually sit down and get to know someone with features, as opposed to the hard news and the chase of it all. The stories can be so compelling, and I really love that deep human-to-human interaction.”

One of her favorite stories she worked on while at the Oregonian, she says, is that of Sue and Mike Faulkender, a quintessential Oregon family that owns a cherry orchard and has fallen upon hard times.

“They were a typical Oregon family who really worked the land and had a pioneer self-sufficient lifestyle,” Dungjen says. “They were really fascinating, and I wrote a story on all their troubles, all their endeavors over the years, and the optimism they have for next year.”

Taylor Dungjen.
Dungjen checks out the cherries in Mike and Sue Faulkender's cherry orchard in Mosier, Ore.

Now that she’s back on campus, Dungjen will dedicate most of her efforts to the News Record. Her goal, she says, is for the paper to win first place at this year’s regional Society of Professional Journalists conference. Last year the News Record came in second for best overall student newspaper, but a first place win will allow them to compete at the national level.

“Taylor made a name for herself at the News Record right off the bat. She has held so many responsibilities, from reporting news to editing news to editor in chief,” says Elissa Sonnenberg, a journalism field service assistant professor and the assistant director of the program, who has known Dungjen since her Introduction to Journalism class three years ago. “Clearly that shows that her work is tremendous, her enthusiasm is contagious, and her skills continue to grow and grow.”

Despite layoffs in the newspaper industry and uncertain times for journalism, Dungjen has faith that the field will persevere.

“I choose to remain optimistic. There will always be a job in journalism. Maybe not a newspaper or a magazine, maybe it will just be my own Web site,” she says. “But as long as we’re able to tell people’s stories, there will always be a place for good journalism.”

Sonnenberg agrees, recognizing in Dungjen the kinds of traits necessary for the field to reinvent itself.

“She is part of a new generation of journalists who understand multimedia aspects for the future of our field,” Sonnenberg says. “It’s going to be a challenge, but with people like Taylor leading the way—being innovative and open to new technology—it’s a good sign for our profession.”

Read some of Dungjen’s work:

Liz Crandall and the Love Affair of 08-030
Portland Streetcar System Flourishing Despite Challenges
Editor Gives Fashion Send Off to Zimpher
Engineers Without Borders

View photography by Dungjen on her Flickr account.

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