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Student gains journalism experience through aggressiveness

Dealing with the daily grind of covering hard news head-on is a craft that even a reporter with years of experience must learn to master.



Tanae Galligan, 16, of Espaņola, has already written stories for her local newspaper, the "Rio Grande Sun," to gain experience as a young journalist. Galligan attended the New Mexico Press Association high school workshop June 1-4 at New Mexico State University. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

For 16-year-old Tanae Galligan of Espaņola, learning this craft has begun at a tender age and at a familiar place. Known as one of the most aggressive newspapers in New Mexico, "The Rio Grande Sun," allowed Galligan to cover stories while she attended Espaņola Valley High School.

"I learned to approach people better and it sharpened my writing skills," Galligan said of her time with the newspaper. "I've been exposed to what's out there."

Galligan said she used her "inside" knowledge to write stories about her high school that the regular reporter who covers the schools may not have access to.

One of the stories included a dress code violation of wearing hats inside the building that not all staff enforced. A second story depicted the unfit condition of bathrooms at the high school that included broken stall doors and the unavailability of toilet paper at times.

At the time, Galligan joined the Student School Improvement Team composed of staff and students that helped reunite the school through activities that improved the school environment.

Some of the activities included hosting a teacher appreciation banquet, the painting of a mural and ensuring there was no hazing during homecoming week.

Even at her young age, Galligan understands the importance of gaining experience.

Currently, Galligan completed her second year at the New Mexico Press Association high school workshop June 1-4 at New Mexico State University.

While working at the "Rio Grande Sun," Bob B. Trapp, managing editor of the newspaper, asked Galligan if she was interested in attending the workshop for the first time. She attended with the newspaper sponsoring her both years.

Participating students were allowed to choose between working as an editor, photographer or a reporter.

With only 48 hours to work with, the students scramble to compile "The Future Press," which is a newspaper the students create with their work.

"It's a good learning experience working under deadline pressure," Galligan said.

High school students that were interested in attending the workshop needed to be sponsored by their local newspaper or high school. NMSU and the NMPA provided housing, meals and classroom instruction.

J. Sean McCleneghan, professor of journalism at NMSU, said the workshop targets students who are the "best and the brightest in English writing courses."

With Galligan already having a promising career ahead of her and a paid tuition, books and room and board offer to attend Eastern New Mexico University, her plans for the future remain open.