Ryan Devereaux was Nation intern in 2010. Following his internship, Devereaux spent a year as a News Production Fellow at Democracy Now! and six months as a reporter for the Guardian in New York City. He is now freelancing for the Guardian and other publications while working as a research assistant for a Nation writer on an upcoming book project. In this interview, Summer 2012 intern Gizelle Lugo interviews Ryan about his work and his time at the magazine.
1. What was your favorite part of the internship and why?
I was able to work closely with the very people who inspired me to become a journalist in the first place. That was easily the best part. I also loved having the opportunity to contribute research to a number of stories that went into the magazine. Additionally, I really enjoyed the process of fact-checking and making sure each writers' claims were 100 percent accurate.
2. What led you to intern at the Nation?
Following the work of writers such as Jeremy Scahill and Naomi Klein, I was predictably drawn to the Nation. I submitted my application and hoped for the best, but I thought being accepted was a long shot. For whatever reason I was given an amazing opportunity and to this day I'm grateful.
3. You've reported on Occupy Wall Street and other protest movements for Democracy Now! and the Guardian. How did you develop this beat?
It was not [my] intention. My Democracy Now! colleague Sam Alcoff and I went down to cover Occupy preparations and actions two days before the actual occupation began. To be honest, I was skeptical and didn't think it would amount to much. My opinion quickly changed, though, as protesters continued to hold the camp day after day and other occupations sprang up around the country. Living in New York City, being a journalist and working for Democracy Now!, there was absolutely no way for me to ignore Occupy, nor did I want to. Covering the movement was an incredible experience that's hard for me to put into words.
In terms of how I literally developed the beat, I just went down there everyday and talked to as many people as possible.
4. What was the best advice you received while doing your Nation internship?
Fact-checking is your first priority. Don't forget it. Scahill told me that. While it's the core responsibility of a Nation intern, it's also the heart of good journalism.
5. If you could only live an hour in anyone else's shoes, who would it be and why?
I grew up at the skate park and have a lot of friends who've gone on to do pretty well in the X-Games and stuff like that. The things they can do on their bikes and skateboards are straight-up amazing. I'd love to spend an hour in their shoes at my old skate park back home and do all the tricks I always wanted to. You were probably hoping for something a little more deep, but honestly I think that would be really fun.
6. What advice do you have for a current/recent/former Nation intern?
Look at the people whose work you respect, do everything you can to understand what they did to get where they are. Take that information and use it inform your own efforts. Find a way to model yourself after the people who have succeeded before you, while still forming your own brand and being your own person. Do that and work hard. Work really, really hard.
7. Which of your stories are you proudest of?
That's a tough one, but if I had to narrow it down to one, it would probably be this one: "Echoes of Trayvon Martin as residents seek justice for Bronx teen's death," in the Guardian, March 30, 2012.
Here are some others I'm proud of:
"Prisoners challenge legality of solitary confinement lasting more than a decade," the Guardian, May 31, 2012.
"Family of retired marine shot dead by police demands prosecution," the Guardian, May 9, 2012.
"How the US Props Up Criminals and Murderers All in the Name of Our Catastrophic Drug War," AlterNet, July 8, 2011.