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Kezia Setyawan, 2020, Malheur Enterprise

During the summer of 2020, Kezia Setyawan spent her days gathering the skills needed to report on the evergrowing story of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Little did she know, several months later, she would use those skills learned during her Snowden internship to cover the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Louisiana.

Setyawan was part of the 2020 cohort of Snowden interns. She worked as a visuals intern at Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Oregon, before crossing state lines and reporting for The Daily Comet in Houma, New Orleans.

“During my internship I learned a lot about crisis reporting and being flexible with stories,” she said. “Like everyone else, I was learning how to report during a time of COVID and how it affected people. I learned how to utilize as many resources as I can…but also being level-headed about what information you’re trying to bring to people (who are) going through some of the most traumatic experiences of their lives.”

Three months into the pandemic, Setyawan spent her days in the small newsroom creating visuals from photographs to data graphics for the paper.

From photographing reopenings of restaurants to a livestock fair that hopped the border to avoid Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 protocols, Setyawan covered the highs and lows that captured the start of the global pandemic.

“I think the (internship set me up) because it showed me the importance of seeing the process of journalism through a local angel. Now I see the big picture, and how national media and bigger outlets base their work on local journalists and the work they do,” she said.

The internship also stretched her creativity on how to take photographs when most events moved to virtual.

“I learned to look at mundae things through a different lens,” said Setyawan. “I learned to be flexible with who I was (photographing) and building relationships with the community and the importance of that.”

Now, almost two years into her career, Setyawan has covered various reporting medians. After working for The Daily Comet for over a year, Setyawan joined the team at New Orleans Public Radio, an affiliate of NPR, as a Coastal Reporter.

“I’m grateful for Snowden in the sense that it gave me an opportunity and the experience to really appreciate local news,” said Setyawan. “I hope that reinvestment, whether it be from local communities or other entities in the vibrant, local media landscape can continue on.”

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