Nearly three decades after the Department of Communication first hosted the Rebele Internship Program for journalism internships, the initiative has continued to grow in profile both on campus and on a national level, with 30-40 students applying to media outlets across the country every year.
Applications for this summer’s round of funding closes April 1. The program is open to all students who have secured a journalism internship.
Established in 1986 by Rowland “Reb” Rebele ’51 and his wife Pat, the internship program has funded Stanford students’ full-time unpaid internships with a newspaper of their choice. The program offers stipends of up to $5,000 for full-time work over the summer and of up to $2,200 for academic year internships.
The idea for the program was originally inspired by Rowland’s first paid journalism internship at the Hanford Sentinel, which he obtained when he was still a student at Stanford. After he went on the Harvard Business School, he and his wife enjoyed a successful career operating and selling newspapers.
“Now that we’ve made this money, it’s time to give it back and help the kids,” Rebele said.
During the first few years, a handful of students interned at local papers and publishers such The Palo Alto Weekly, The Menlo Park Almanac or The Mountain View Voice. More recently, students have secured placements at larger — and often national — publications such as The New York Times and The Miami Herald.
According to Susie Ementon, a former program coordinator, about 30-40 students apply for a Rebele stipend each year compared to the few that participated when the program was first established.
Ementon attributed the growing number of applicants to the appeal of a chance to do hands-on reporting and learn about the profession, even while the internships themselves are unpaid.
Alexei Koseff ’12 M.A. ’13, who is currently enrolled at the Stanford Graduate Program in Journalism and who participated in the Rebele program for the first time last summer, cited the program’s funding as a major reason to apply.
“What is great about the Rebele program is that its funding eliminates that barrier of entry and allows young students who would otherwise not be able to afford this opportunity to put a foot in the door,” Koseff said.
Koseff worked at The Orange County Register’s bureau in Laguna Woods Village, a senior retirement community of 80,000 people. He cited the small size of his office — which employed only two other people — as a significant factor in improving the quality of his reporting.
This coming summer Koseff will again work as a Rebele intern, working this time at The Los Angeles Times on their news desk.
“I understand that [journalism] is not currently the most accessible profession,” Koseff said. “The state of the industry is in flux and also challenged by monetization, but it is something that I am passionate about, so I want to give myself the opportunity to try it out for a while.”
Katrin Wheeler, the program’s current coordinator, framed the program’s ability to pair newly funded students and editors in need of unpaid writers as mutually beneficial.
Ementon added that, regardless of participating students’ eventual career plans, feedback on the program has been consistently positive. Over the program’s lifespan, the number of non-journalism applicants has steadily grown to two-thirds of the total applicants.