JSchool news

Not your usual commute for Bangkok Post intern Harrison Brooks

Posted by: UR JSchool | On: 20th Nov, 2018 | News

Harrison Brooks is interning at the Bangkok Post in Thailand.

Bangkok, Thailand – While his classmates wade through snow, Harrison Brooks wheels his bike through the hot, crowded streets of Bangkok, a booming Southeast Asian city some 12,000 kilometres away from the frozen prairie.

Brooks is the 10th University of Regina School of Journalism student to tackle a semester-long internship at the Bangkok Post, the region’s leading English-language daily, via a scholarship-supported partnership between the J-School and the Post.

His assignment this week involves talking with Scott Murray, a founder of the Siam Ice Hockey League and, incidentally, a grandson of Gladstone Murray, CBC’s first general manager.

“It’s a weird connection, so random,” says Brooks, who is developing a sense of how interlinked the world can be. In this case, a conversation with a workmate whose brother plays hockey led to a phone call to the Bangkok-based league, which led to a weekend taking in a tournament and interviewing players and coaches.

“There are actually some pretty good players, and lot of them are really good young Thai players. But the ice conditions are pretty bad,” Brooks observes. The rink is in a shopping mall and when there’s extended play at one end, the heat of the players’ bodies causes a dense fog.

Later that evening Brooks meets up with Dietrich Neu, a U of R J-School grad and former Bangkok Post intern who now lives and works full time in Bangkok. Diving into burgers and beer, the two trade notes about life in the sprawling tropical city.

“The internship changed my life,” says Neu, who interned at the Post in 2013. “I came away with a new perspective. I’d gone outside of my home town. I’d seen a different culture. And when I left, I felt like I just wanted to go back.”

He was captivated by the buzz of the city and sense of wide-open opportunities for people with journalism skills.

“I had met a few editors and writers who said I could get started, and I thought this is the only chance in my life when I would get to do that – to start a career in another country as opposed to starting my career at home and then just spending my whole life there, career-wise,” he recalls.

Today Neu manages eight writers and photographers at a creative agency that, among other things, produces feature stories for a commercial magazine.

“The thing I love about it is, it’s a way I can exercise all those long form story skills that I learned in J-School. I also coach my junior staff on how to do those things, using that knowledge that I had in J-School,” he says.

Although they’d never met in Canada, Neu sometimes crosses paths with the J-School’s first Bangkok Post intern, Barbara Woolsey, now a Berlin-based correspondent who occasionally returns to Thailand on assignment.

2013 intern Dietrich Neu and 2018 intern Harrison Brooks raise a glass to working abroad.

Neu isn’t sure how long he’ll stay in Bangkok, but says the important thing is that he’s learned from Woolsey and others is that it’s entirely possible to work in another country and across cultures.

Brooks, meanwhile, is unsure where he’ll end up after graduating. “I’m not a big planner,” he says with a laugh. Tomorrow he’ll be tweaking the hockey story, which has grown into a feature-length article, and after that he’ll be working on a piece about a local transgender LGBTQ activist. He’s busy learning the ropes in a place with 10 million stories to tell, while gathering skills that can take him anywhere.


A world of opportunity…
With longstanding connections to newsrooms across Canada and around the world, the U of R School of Journalism offers outstanding hands-on opportunities to its students, including Canada’s only paid full-semester, 15-credit internship program. Start your journalism career today!

…Thanks to our supporters
The Bangkok Post internship was initially established with scholarship funding from the former Sask Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) and continued with support from the Mary Lou Ogle Scholarship for the Study of Communications, and the School of Journalism. If you would like to establish a new scholarship for budding journalists, or donate to an existing fund, please contact U of R External Relations.