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W&L Journalism Wizards Report on Harry Potter

As the Harry Potter saga draws to a close with the July 15 opening of the final movie, stories abound in the media about what the event means for faithful readers and viewers. Many of them focus on college students in their late teens and early 20s who have literally grown up with Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.

At least two of those newspaper stories emerged from the keyboards of Washington and Lee journalism students who are also members of that cohort: Becky Mickel, a rising junior, and Eleanor Kennedy, a rising senior.

Eleanor, from Munster, Ind., is interning this summer with the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. She did a preview of the movie’s arrival on July 14 and then,  in her July 15 piece, the Pi Beta Phi president interviewed the self-dubbed “Charlotte Geeks” and others who’d been waiting in line for hours to catch the midnight premiere.

Becky, who’s from Monroe, La., is spending her summer at the Roanoke Times. She put together a quiz on Harry Potter for July 14 and also wrote about a Roanoke man in his 30s who read every Potter book and watched every Potter movie. That’s not unusual — except he did it all in the last four months.

As Pam Luecke, head of the department of journalism and mass communications at W&L, observes, there is one story each summer that the W&L journalism interns are asked to “localize” no matter where in the country they are working. Last summer, several W&L interns provided perspective for local readers on the Gulf Oil Spill. This summer it was Harry Potter.

The movie broke all records by earning $168.6 million in the U.S. and Canada in just three days and earning the biggest international debut ever, with $307 million overseas in 59 foreign countries. Lexington did its part. The R/C State Cinema 3 sold out of its midnight showing.

If you, too, spent your childhood at Hogwarts or if you’re a Potter fan whose age is closer to that of Severus Snape and Sybill Trelawney, share your thoughts about the end of an era in the comments section of this blog (below).