ROTC combines brand journalism with training

For its annual Leader’s Training Course at Fort Knox, Army ROTC brings in a handful of college-age interns to report on what cadets are up to.

On his way to Fort Knox, Ky., for ROTC’s four-week Leader’s Training Course, an airline lost Hammons’ luggage, so all he had to wear on his feet for a few days was a pair of lime-green boots his girlfriend had gotten him. Gounley, an intern in the public affairs office, covered how the boots became something everyone in the troop found funny.

“We try to find things that are just kind of quirky,” says Steve Arel, public affairs officer for the course.

Each year, the ROTC brings in 14 or so college-age reporters, photographers, and videographers to document what happens during the summer course. It’s a win/win: The students gain experience and clips, while the ROTC spreads the word about one of its summer events.

Assembling the group

The training course is 47 years old, but interns didn’t start reporting on the event until the early 1980s, says Arel. Initially, those interns were second lieutenants in the Army, but after a few years, Arel’s predecessor started recruiting civilian students.

“He wanted to give opportunities to people who were looking at careers in the communications field,” Arel says.

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