By Aleeza Kazmi
My semester at WSHU was an incredible learning experience that helped me hone my scriptwriting skills, which really benefited me in my broadcast classes. I worked in the afternoons after my supervisor left the office, which meant that for the majority of the internship I was writing readers and cut-and-copies, rather than voicers. I quickly came to learn that writing scripts that other people will read is a bit different, and trickier, than writing for yourself. Certain phrases that I may use if I were reading the script just did not work for readers or cut-and-copies. When I first started, my editor had to rewrite my scripts quite a bit to eliminate syntax that might work better for a voicer, but as the internship progressed, I began to understand how to write a script for someone else.
Another skill I worked on at WSHU was interviewing people for radio. I will admit this is easier than video interviews as you don’t have to worry about framing and lighting. But for radio, you need to be sure to capture soundbites that will engage the listener. I learned that rather than having a bite that adds information, it is better if it adds a bit of emotion to the story. For a wrap I did about a Thanksgiving charity event, I got a number of soundbites from the organizer who gave me a lot of information about how many people volunteered and how many food baskets were arranged. But in the one I decided to use, she talked about how people want to give back and spread holiday joy to those who are facing a financial hardship. You could hear the passion in her voice, and the soundbite added to the emotion of the story rather than the facts. This, I learned, is usually the purpose of a soundbite in an audio story.
One thing I wish I had known from the start was that having access to a car would have allowed me to get the most out of the internship. Unfortunately, during my internship I did not have a car, so I was mostly confined to the office. Though I enjoyed working from the office, I was envious of the interns with cars who could go to press conferences or travel around Long Island to report on the news of the day. But there is always a silver lining: Even though I didn’t have those experiences myself, I was able to learn from theirs. That is one of the best parts of working in the newsroom–learning from each other and sharing tips is all a part of the newsroom culture that I really love.
One major piece of advice I would give a journalism student considering an internship at WSHU is to get familiar with Adobe Audition. I was fortunate enough to have worked at the on-campus radio station, WUSB, in my sophomore year. That experience allowed me to practice working on Audition, which then benefited me during my internship at WSHU. Though, of course, everyone at WSHU is more than willing to teach you the program, being able to hit the ground running with Audition and bypassing the learning stage will help you get more out of the internship. The second piece of advice is to read two books: Writing News for Broadcast and Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production. The first is a really great guide for how to write scripts based on newspaper articles, with which we are already very familiar through the SOJ program. The second book takes this a step further and is a guide for how to write scripts for radio. Both books will make you a better storyteller and make the transition into the internship much easier. I would also advise SOJ students who aren’t sure if working in radio is for them to do the internship regardless. Even if you end up doing print, you will be a much better writer and reporter because of your internship at WSHU.