By Nikita Ramos
During the fall semester of 2015, I visited the CBS newsroom for a Professional Friday trip. Since that day, I’ve been inspired to work in such a respected organization. Two years later, I can finally say that I’ve done it and I honestly feel like a changed person.
At the beginning of my internship, I was placed with broadcast marketing at “CBS This Morning.” That job title sounded very vague to me and out of the journalism field I was familiar with. I asked if there were any other positions open that were geared more to hard news journalism. A week later, I was placed with the research team for the Evening News and I couldn’t have been any happier. I think speaking up — in a polite but assertive manner — is important when something doesn’t sit right..
Initially, I thought that being on the research team entailed info-digging for reporters. Boy, did I underestimate my position. I was one of six people on the research team. Every morning I came in and opened the rundown for the 6:30 p.m. broadcast and checked emails. Reporters and producers contacted our research team to find and confirm information or statistics that they wanted to use in their packages. For example, after the foiled Port Authority bomb on Dec. 11, my co-worker and I compiled a list of all failed terrorist attacks in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001. After the Las Vegas shooting, I worked with the national desk to compile a confirmed list of the victims and photos to use. I did this by searching victims’ Facebook pages, other social media accounts, hometown newspapers and police press releases. I have also been working on a list of pictures and information of women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct. These are just a few examples of information that our research team works on gathering.
As time came closer for the broadcast to go live, more finished packages would be entered into the rundown for the research team to check before the reporter tracked the script. I read through these before the broadcast and fact-checked every name, date, title or number that the reporter and producer would include in the piece. I confirmed information with primary sources such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and FEMA, for example, for storm and storm relief information. Sometimes I would speak directly with a source to confirm details if the story was about that specific person. Making calls wasn’t always necessary if I could rely on information from sources such as press releases, official statements, published and unbiased studies or reporter notes.
Reaching out to primary sources for information reinforced an important concept of journalism for me. Research and fact-checking are the crux of the profession. I chose a challenging topic for my JRN 490 senior project this semester and the research experience I had at CBS News helped me tremendously with newsgathering and putting the story into context.
I also worked directly with reporters and producers on packages. Fifteen minutes before the broadcast, I would usually go to one of the control rooms to check every lower third, graphic, tease and double box to make sure spelling and details were correct before airing. One of the best parts of this internship was the fact that my work had a direct impact on this national broadcast. I’ve caught many mistakes from reporters, writers, graphic artists and producers that they had to be corrected before airing. Being in the research department was also great because I worked directly with so many different people and departments—the national and international desks, executive producers, correspondents, graphic artists and even producers in bureaus across the country.
Every morning of my internship, I woke up looking forward to coming into work. Each day brought a new and exciting challenge for me. I dug deep into a plethora of topics and left for home with so much more knowledge than I came with. Whether it was about baseball field nets or a new high blood pressure study, the tax bills in Congress or tattoo laws in different states, the depth of learning was unlimited. I really recommend anyone who is passionate about news to apply for an internship in the research department at CBS News. The people I’ve met and the experience and knowledge I’ve obtained is unmatched by any class I could take in any school.