A Dumas resident gained professional experience over the summer as part of the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation's Summer Internship Program.
Joe Santana is a junior mass communication major at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He was one of four college students selected for the internship program.
Santana worked as a reporter and photographer for The Dumas Clarion over the summer, according to a news release.
"Mr. Rick Wright, the publisher, knew me from around town for my photography after I replied to an article where he was looking for a part-time photographer," Santana said. "I started taking pictures during my senior year of high school in 2020, which was the height of covid. When we were out of school, I picked up my camera that I had originally bought for YouTube videos and started taking my friends' senior portraits. That's how I got started."
During his internship, Santana did everything from administrative duties and selling advertising to writing stories and taking photographs.
"I traveled around with my co-worker, Linna Jones, the journalist of Dumas," Santana said. "I went with her to cover town meetings and write feature stories. She showed me the ropes of how to be a journalist. The internship really showed me how to appreciate newspapers."
His favorite assignment of the summer was a Flag Day story on the importance of maintaining flags.
"A veteran in Dumas had noticed a lot of torn up flags around town, and he really wanted us to tell people how to take care of flags properly," Santana said.
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-aged journalists get started in their newspaper careers.
"Joe was a great summer intern, and we enjoyed having him at the Dumas Clarion," Wright said. "Joe is an excellent writer and photographer and an excellent feature story writer. I see nothing but a great career in Joe's future."
Santana's internship was specially sponsored by a donation from the Arkansas Press Women, the Dumas Chamber of Commerce, Dumas Economic Development, 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. Charlotte Schexnayder, who died 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 she held.
Santana has just joined the staff of UA Little Rock's student newspaper, The Forum, and is looking forward to a career in journalism after he graduates in May 2024.