Hugh S. Sidey scholarship recipient returns from D.C.

Alex Hanson tours the new Washington Post newsroom.

It’s one thing to learn journalism principles in a classroom. It’s another thing to see professional journalists in action.

As the recipient of the 2016 Hugh S. Sidey Scholarship in Print Journalism at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, junior Alexander Hanson received a $5,000 scholarship and behind-the-scenes access to various media outlets as part of a trip to Washington D.C.

While Hanson appreciates the money (it will cover more than half of his tuition this school year), it’s the connections made on the all-expenses-paid trip that he values most. Hanson, who is the managing editor of the Iowa State Daily and works part-time at Iowa Public Radio, has aspirations of working as a government reporter or a radio producer. The trip gave him the opportunity to meet professionals who work in both fields.

Highlights of his trip, which was organized by the White House Historical Association, included watching a live broadcast of NBC’s “Meet the Press”; visiting the newsrooms and offices of The Washington Post, McClatchyDC, Sirius XM, NPR, and Politico; and touring the East Wing of the White House. A self-described politics junkie who covered the Iowa caucuses for the Iowa State Daily, Hanson was excited to make the trip during an election year.

“It was amazing to talk to the political reporters and get their take on all this election drama,” said Hanson, who is majoring in journalism and political science. “Probably the most beneficial was being able to network with all these people who are in the trenches every day.”

Junior Alex Hanson (center) and several White House Historical Association staffers meet Chuck Todd on the set of “Meet the Press.”

Hanson was also excited to see how professional newsrooms functioned, with some staffers monitoring for breaking news while others studied analytics that provided instant feedback.

Hanson also attended a White House Historical Association board meeting, where Michael Duffy, the deputy managing editor of TIME, gave the keynote address. Duffy was familiar with some of his work.

“It was like his speech was directed at me. He knew Hugh Sidey, so he was drawing comparisons to my essay,” Hanson said.

Hanson’s winning essay, “The Most Important Job in this Democracy,” focuses on the importance of fair and responsible journalism that holds public officials—especially the president—accountable on policy and issues in an age of tweets, GIFs, and outrageous statements. Or, as Hanson summarized, “We need more Hugh Sideys.”

The Hugh S. Sidey Scholarship in Print Journalism was established in 2006 at Iowa State University, Sidey’s alma mater, by the White House Historical Association and Mr. David. M. Rubenstein. The scholarship is intended to keep alive Sidey’s legacy of reporting on the presidency by supporting aspiring print journalists at the Greenlee School.

Find more details and learn how to apply.