For the second summer in a row, aspiring journalist Joe Santana has had the opportunity to gain valuable professional experience as a reporter while interning at his hometown newspaper, the Dumas Clarion.

Santana, a senior mass communication major at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, was selected for the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation’s Summer Internship Program. The Arkansas Newspaper Foundation supports Arkansas newspapers by helping fund summer interns at Arkansas Press Association member newspapers across the state. The paid internship is designed to help aspiring college-age journalists get started in their newspaper careers.

Santana’s internship, the Charlotte Schexnayder Journalism Internship, was specially sponsored by donations from the Arkansas Press Women, the Dumas Chamber of Commerce, and Merchants & Farmers Bank of Dumas in memory of Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder. 

Melvin and Charlotte Schexnayder owned and published the Dumas Clarion for 44 years. Schexnayder, who passed away in 2020, was one of the first members and a former president of Arkansas Press Women and the first female president of the Dumas Chamber of Commerce, among many other honors, making her a powerful role model for future journalists in Arkansas.

“As an aspiring journalist who wants to become a reporter, I am glad I got experience in every field of journalism,” Santana said. “Working for my hometown newspaper helped me figure out how to find local news. It taught me the rules of journalism and helped me build my resume.”

Over the summer, Santana worked with Dumas Clarion Publisher Linna Jones and covered city meetings and events. He cites his favorite stories of the summer as those involving his high school classmates. He wrote a feature story about Maria Lopez, who has returned to Dumas to become the parent center coordinator and middle school band director, as well as an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony for a new business, Raye Haven Salon, that is located at the site of a once vacant Bumper to Bumper shop.

“This summer I felt like an official reporter,” Santana said. “I had more responsibility and learned time management skills. This internship has already helped my career and will continue to do so in the future.”

During the fall semester, Santana completed an internship at KATV and credits landing the internship to the experience he received at the Dumas Clarion.

At UA Little Rock, Santana also serves as a reporter for the student newspaper, the Forum, as well as co-vice president and social media chair for the Hispanic/Latinx Initiative, all while running his part-time photography business. He will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with a concentration in journalism.

For other students who are considering completing a summer newspaper internship, Santana advised them to take chances and ask plenty of questions.

“Put yourself out there and don’t be scared to make mistakes because you will learn from them,” Santana said. “In this industry, you have to network. For students who are taking an internship, don’t just ask questions. Make sure that you make an impression.”