SOJ Insider | Simmons

Young alumni highlights

News-ed alum covers federal government for the AP

By Briana Warner

In May 2007, Christine Simmons (BSJ, 2007) finished her term as editor-in-chief of The Daily Athenaeum (DA). One month later, she began her career as an editorial assistant at The Associated Press (AP) Washington bureau. A 2007 news-editorial graduate, Simmons works for the AP to help cover news from the White House, State Department, Congress and other federal agencies.

As an editorial assistant, she has helped reporters cover primaries and debates for the upcoming presidential election.

“I’m really grateful I came in at this time right before the election because it’s great experience to be in D.C. during one of the hottest moments in the election,” said Simmons. “I get that experience and learn how to operate and process the news during such a heated time.”

Simmons says that her daily tasks include producing sidebar stories, bylined stories and contributing research to other reporters. Last year, she worked extensively on stories about the Chinese lead paint product recalls.

“That was certainly an eye-opener for me and a good experience for learning how federal agencies work in trying to protect consumers,” said Simmons.

In addition to learning on the job, Simmons finds herself drawing upon lessons from the School of Journalism when she is reporting.

“All my classes were helpful, but I use the material from ethics and law the most,” said Simmons. “I have thought about those topics the most and use them in conjunction with my own experience to succeed at my job.”

As a news-editorial student, Simmons worked her way through the ranks at the DA from junior staffer to associate news editor to editor-in-chief her senior year. In addition, Simmons held internships at The Marietta Times, The Charleston Gazette and The Washington Times.

Her advice to students at the School of Journalism focuses on the importance of those internships.

“Employers are looking for experience before you even graduate,” said Simmons. “If I hadn’t had any internships, I wouldn’t be at the AP right now. I think that’s the most critical thing for helping out a student’s overall career.”

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