I was thrown right into everything, and I’m so glad I was

by Joe Damiani

A summer internship at the News 12 Long Island Sports Department was the first internship in my journalism career. I went in not knowing what to expect, even though my supervisor, Kevin Maher, News 12’s sports director, had told me in summary – I was just too anxious to remember. What I thought would be a nerve-wracking summer at a large television news organization turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far, one that I hated to leave on my last day.

The very first day was memorable. I had somehow gotten detached from the intern group after our orientation meeting, and after our ID photos were taken. After I was shown to the sports department, I met one of the producers, Rob Del Muro. I introduced myself, and he replied, “Great – I’m sending you out.” So, on my first day I went to two high school baseball playoff games and a playoff softball game, logging scoring plays for the night’s highlights. I was thrown right into everything, and I’m so glad I was.

On another day, I was lucky enough to go out in the field with anchor Jamie Stuart and watch Ultimate Fighting Championship champion Chris Weidman train. I went to the New York State Open golf tournament at Bethpage Black and interviewed the winner. I even got to interview the newest New York Islander, Cal Clutterbuck. I got to meet people and go places I never thought I would be able to.

The majority of work I did as an intern was logging and editing. This might seem tedious and repetitive, but if you truly love what you do, which I do, it’s exciting, each and every day. Each Tuesday and Thursday night, I’d tune in to any Mets, Yankees, Knicks, or local high school game that was televised, and had to log scoring or highlight-worthy plays. After logging came editing. Editing SOTs and VOs on the fly was something I progressively got better at, and working in time crunches became less stressful. What viewers may not realize is that what they see on TV is just a tiny fraction of what was recorded, logged, interviewed, or taped. So much effort goes into just a five- minute broadcast or a 45-second highlight.

Through it all, I learned that things can get hectic even when nothing is going on. If a highlight or tease or open wasn’t pushed to the main server, the entire show could suffer, and everyone goes into panic mode.
I learned that time, literally, matters – and in many different ways. Filling the time blocks for the sportscast was contingent on how long a voiceover or SOT was, and I needed to attach times to the scoring plays for highlights so that editors could look them up later. And I learned that you can’t take your time in this business. At first I didn’t understand how so much had to be done for a five-minute broadcast, but I learned quickly. In the television realm, things need to be done, and done fast, especially in sports. A game can change in a second, right when you finish the highlights, which means you have to alter what you did to make it correct. You have to be on your game, and focus.

I’m fortunate to be able to say that there wasn’t anything I wished I had known from the start of my time at News 12. The reason is because I did know things from the start. I knew how to edit; I knew the software; the studio process; the lingo…I knew it.

If an SOJ student is considering this internship in the future, which I strongly hope he or she does, I would tell him or her to always ask questions. Especially in the television industry, and especially in sports, if you don’t know what you’re doing, everyone and everything around you suffers and lags. If you have a question, ask it. If you don’t know whether you’re doing something correctly, ask. If not, the broadcast will suffer. A student considering this internship should know to go above what’s asked. Do the work before you’re asked. Get there early. Dress appropriately. All of the little things you do will be noticed.