PRINCETON, N.J. — In March 2020, the world came to a grinding halt as a global pandemic wreaked havoc on communities and businesses. With the COVID-19 vaccine now widely available and many people fully vaccinated, how is America handling the gradual reopening of society? What does reopening mean after more than a year of restrictions, turmoil and sacrifice? That’s what the Back in Business project, conceived and created by the Dow Jones News Fund Digital Media class of 2021, sets out to explore.

Working remotely from across the country, 21 DJNF digital media interns spent three weeks researching, reporting and producing stories about the recovery of their local communities and businesses.

The result is Back in Business, an impressive multimedia package of videos, audio, photos, infographics and original reporting. Each journalist brought their own unique talents, while using the skills taught by faculty from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and other professional journalists.

Mel Fronczek, a managing editor of the project, said the training was very helpful for producing Back in Business, particularly thinking about accessibility and how best to serve the audience.

“Many of the teams used the same programs, techniques and advice from speakers on their projects. I liked that we were able to build a rapport with the speakers and later in the week be able to show them our own work and ask them specific questions about how to improve it.”

The program is led by Michael Wong, director of career services at the Cronkite School of Journalism.

Wong praised the interns’ dedication, “They did this while attending digital training for nine straight days, attending graduation ceremonies, working part-time jobs or getting ready to compete in a national championship track meet. It always amazes me how these students come together to produce a project.”

Ellen Hine, a managing editor of the project, agreed, “We were really lucky to have such an amazing team.”

The Back in Business team and their roles:

  • Paige Barnes, audio
  • Janat Batra, writing and copy editing
  • Jordan Brown, photo and video
  • Erin Burnett, website development
  • Ella Feldman, writing and copy editing
  • Jing Feng, audio and social media
  • Brittney Forbes, social team and website development
  • Jasmine Franklin, photo and video
  • Melissa Fronczek, managing editor
  • Marissa Garcia, audio
  • Héctor García De León, infographics and social media
  • Ellen Hine, managing editor
  • Jada Hoffman, photo and video
  • Cheryn Hong, writing
  • Rachel Hunt, infographics and website development
  • Sarah Komar, managing editor
  • Olivia Marble, audio
  • Candice Murdock, infographics and copy editing
  • Riley Robinson, photo and video
  • Christine Sanchez, writing
  • Marci Suela, infographics and website development

Learn more about each participant and their plans for this summer here.

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