Photograph courtesy Madyson Fitzgerald

Meet Madyson Fitzgerald, '23, journalism intern

September 25, 2022

Portrait

Senior Madyson Fitzgerald sharpened her writing chops during an internship with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
by Cassie Price

A summer internship with the Richmond Times-Dispatch put Madyson Fitzgerald, ’23, smack in the center of the fast-paced news cycle. That’s exactly where she loves to be.

As a metro news intern, she covered Richmond-area news related to national hot-button issues such as abortion, record-breaking fuel prices, and the baby formula shortage. She also covered stories with a unique Richmond focus, such as local Juneteenth and Pride Month celebrations, homicides, and historic African American cemeteries.

Twenty of her stories landed on the front page of the Times-Dispatch. The Associated Press picked up two that subsequently ran in The Washington Post and other media outlets.

Covering Richmond’s urban heat islands was one of her favorite assignments, she said. Typically found in minority and lower-income communities, these areas are marked by above-average temperatures due to a lack of trees and an abundance of asphalt.

Another favorite assignment was covering the May 14 abortion rights rally held in Richmond’s Monroe Park.

“I had never been to a protest on that scale,” said the senior from Colonial Heights, Virginia. “Police cars ringed the perimeter of the park where thousands of people chanted. I listened to the speakers and interviewed diverse people — young, old, every color, every gender. It was exciting to cover an important issue that is in the spotlight right now.”

It was exciting to cover an important issue that is in the spotlight right now.

In addition to writing print stories, Fitzgerald took a turn at broadcast journalism with her June 21 and July 14 local news synopses that ran on the Times-Dispatch Instagram.

Her majors in leadership studies and journalism informed her Jepson internship at the Times-Dispatch, she said.

“My journalism classes gave me practical skills — how to write concisely, interview people, take photos,” she said. “I learned how journalism is morphing, with print media shrinking, while digital and social media are growing.

“My leadership studies classes taught me how to communicate with others in a way that respects their identities and stories. At the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, we talk about morals, ethics, and justice. That’s a lot of what goes into good journalism.”

Cocurricular activities have also helped hone her communications skills, she said. She is currently the copy chief — and previously served as a photographer — for The Collegian. As a communications assistant for the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, she writes feature stories and curates social media content focused on equity and inclusion.

This year, as president of the Jepson Student Government Association, she said she wants to communicate the value of a Jepson School education to students who are not familiar with leadership studies. Much of that value derives from Jepson’s focus on ethics, she said. She hopes to bring that same focus to the newsroom in her future career.

“To promote a working democracy, journalists must present unbiased information so that people can make informed decisions about the world around them.”