Journalism student grabs coveted Tribune internship

By Martin Xavi Macias

Journalism graduate student (’16)

Matt McCall, an undergraduate journalism student at Columbia College, is taking on a roll that is coveted by many journalism students across the city–a paid internship at the Chicago Tribune. It won’t be his first rodeo at the Tribune, either. McCall previously worked as an intern for Homicide Watch Chicago, reporting on crime and murder in the city.

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McCall moved around a lot in his early youth. He was born in Ohio but has also lived in Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas, though, when pressed, he will tell you he is from Dallas.

During the time he spent growing up in Florida, McCall really wanted to be either a marine biologist or a paleontologist. He said studying science in Florida’s public schools really “beat the curiosity about science” out of him.

McCall credits Jeff Lyon, Columbia College faculty member and winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism, for renewing and nurturing his interest in science reporting. Lyon is also the faculty adviser to the Columbia Chronicle, where McCall spent time as a feature writer and editor.

This past summer, McCall won a prestigious and competitive internship at National Geographic. He is currently working on what he described as a “juicy story” that he can’t say much about.

“It has to do with explaining something that might be kind of icky and kind of scary. That’s all I can say,” McCall said.

McCall also credited the influence of Sam Roe, who teaches investigative reporting at Columbia College and is a staff writer at the Chicago Tribune. Roe, who was featured on this blog, was part of the reporting team that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for an examination of unsafe children’s products.

Roe’s mantra was that “journalism is a totally moral endeavor,” McCall said. “It’s not just about getting a good story, we have a responsibility of educating the public. That perspective has made my work so much better.”