Clara Howell: Immersed in the experience
Regular readers already know Clara Howell, the Outlook's summer reporting intern for 2017. After completing her prestigious Snowden fellowship here, she's moving on to a full-time reporting job with two Pamplin Media Group papers.
OUTLOOK: So... writing. Just a passing phase?
CLARA HOWELL: I've always wanted to be a writer. I used to want to be an author, and I still do. I started writing when I could hold a pen. Me and my dad would have phone calls and write creative short stories over the phone.
OUTLOOK: What did your parents think?
HOWELL: My mom used to call me Steven Queen. Nothing I write is happy for some reason. I think I use creative writing as an outlet. But I haven't been able to write creatively in my free time, because I'm always writing for work.
OUTLOOK: You were co-editor of your college newspaper, the Pacific Index. How was that?
HOWELL: You weren't just the editor. We wrote, we photographed, we edited. We laid out the paper. We did everything. (We published) every other week, usually a 12-pager.
OUTLOOK: Do you have a favorite news story from that time?
HOWELL: (An alumna) was walking down the street in the city... and someone threw a brick at her and called her racially derogative names. She wanted to get her story out.
OUTLOOK: What happened?
HOWELL: She was completely innocent — she didn't do anything. She talked about her ancestry and how she feels that history is repeating. It was sad. Talking to someone who has been so dramatically affected by that, you want to get the story out there and help stop that.
OUTLOOK: You've also written for Grant Magazine. What was that like?
HOWELL: That's when I was really introduced to journalism and learned the craft. (We'd report) in uncomfortable situations, talk about uncomfortable subjects. (Our advisor) would have us go into their homes, because we weren't allowed to have the interview at school or at a coffee shop. I learned you have to really know the person, and immerse yourself in that experience to bring the story to life.
OUTLOOK: You published a personal story about a pigeon, right?
HOWELL: That piece was a braided essay. You intertwine memories with facts about something, so I used a pigeon.
I wanted to try writing about my dad, which is a whole other situation, and an ex-boyfriend. I wanted to take it in a way that expressed the men that have hurt me the most and (how that) shaped me into who I am now. It was interesting to explore. All of this is why I am the way I am.
OUTLOOK: Any hobbies?
HOWELL: Writing and photography have always been my hobbies. (Laughs) I go through Netflix like a box of chocolates.
My favorite thing to do is adventure, whether that be outdoors, a new restaurant or new activities. I like doing new things.
OUTLOOK: Can you share a recent adventure?
HOWELL: Earlier this summer I went ATV riding with my boyfriend... and that was an experience.
He's an adrenaline junkie, and he was driving the majority of the time. I had my eyes shut, tears literally streaming down my face, because we were going so fast. There's so much out there to see and life goes by so fast. I just want to experience as much as I can.
OUTLOOK: What should be the media's mission in modern society?
HOWELL: I think the media's role is just to provide the truth and unbiased facts. For the most part, I think (we) do a good job of that. But the way the media is portrayed on television comes off as biased — not necessarily the stories — but the fact that the media is only broadcasting a certain side of the story.
OUTLOOK: And so-called Fake News?
HOWELL: I think it's really stupid. Reporters and editors have to have really thick skin. That's why you save your notes and your voice recordings.
JUST THE FACTS:
Name: Clara Howell
High School: Graduated from Grant High in Portland in 2013.
College: Earned a media arts degree from Pacific University in Forest Grove.
Next Job: Education reporter for the West Linn Tidings and Wilsonville Spokesman
Watching: Shameless, Scandal, Dexter and The Killing. "Anything that gives you a thrill," she says. "It's always people with issues."