by Catherine Leffert
When baking a pie, the trick to a good crust is to work the dough just enough, without over-kneading. The best cookies are made with browned butter, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it. These are tricks Max Reyes has learned from a baking — a hobby he always has energy for, he said.
Baking requires preparation, development and testing the final product — his career in journalism involves the same. .
Before applying to the Dow Jones News Fund/American City Business Journal internship, Reyes thought he unqualified, not experienced enough. He had to prepare He started to listening to podcasts about business reporting from the Poynter Institute and basic finance principles. He read business headlines trying to become more familiar with the subject.
“The thing I’d always heard about (business reporting) is that other reporters are afraid to do it, and if you’re willing to do it, you have a leg up,” Reyes said. “It was something I knew I could do if I tried hard enough.”
The rising senior at Emerson College first became interested in journalism because he wanted to write fiction and thought journalism could function as a segue. Now, he’s pursuing business reporting as a career.
From a young age, Reyes, listened to the radio in the car — usually National Public Radio. The Bloomfield, New Jersey native said he trusted and respected the voices he heard each day. In the summer of 2016, the move of one of Reyes’ favorite hosts on NPR, Soterios Johnson, prompted the station to ask listeners to send in three letter phrases about Johnson. Reyes said the three words that came to his mind were “my dear friend.”
Reyes said growing up, he wasn’t good at social interactions, so never had many friends. But when not many friends were around, the radio was.
During one of his first weeks on campus at Emerson College as a journalism major, Reyes said he went to the office of The Berkeley Beacon, the student newspaper. He went there primarily to write, but he went for more than that. He wanted professional experience, but he also wanted a social environment to be part of.
Since his start at the Beacon, Reyes worked as a correspondent, a breaking news reporter, enterprise reporter, deputy news editor and eventually podcast producer. He said his favorite stories had human elements that made an impact: a boy with cerebral palsy who had accessibility problems at Emerson, and issues of staff members part of the union. These stories taught him compassion and humility, learning how to interact with people more.
Doug Struck, the advisor to The Beacon while Reyes worked there and Reyes’ academic advisor described him as someone who is dedicated, ambitious and innovative as a journalist. Struck said he is sometimes amused by Reyes because the 21-year-old will think he’s not doing enough at college, whether it’s internships or classes. Struck said he has to reassure Reyes that he’s doing plenty.
“I’m very impressed with him,” Struck said. “He’s certainly driven to do the type of work he’s outlined for himself and envisions for himself. He’s a mature reporter, a good reporter and very thorough.
Reyes has used some of these skills to attain internships throughout his college experience. During this past fall semester, Reyes interned at WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, reading AP wires or making phone calls to write up quick news for the website.
During the spring, Reyes took a semester off school to participate in the Boston Globe Business Co-op internship. He wrote about 40 bylines, plus a daily business news agenda ranging in topic from displays on rare diseases in Boston’s city hall to new bars opening around town.
Now he’ll continue to cover Boston business at the Boston Business Journal this summer before returning to Emerson in the fall for his final year.
“Every journalist should approach themselves as a toolbox,” Reyes said. “You should see yourself as a collection of tools, abilities, assets, and aptitudes. You should always be trying to pick up more of those and that’s what I see (this internship) as an opportunity as.”