by Khloé Meitz
I interned this fall as a news reporter at Long Island’s Newsday paper, based in Melville. As a reporter I was assigned various stories and projects by editors and expected to submit a story on them by deadline. The stories were mostly features because I worked twice a week – on Monday and Wednesday – making timely follow-ups difficult on developing stories, although I covered one breaking news story and also aided reporters on several articles by gathering quotes or documents.
In total I turned out nine articles – most of which were published on the web and in the printed edition. They varied in subject matter and section and included four obituaries, two event-coverage stories, two special-interest stories and one breaking news story.
Overall, I found the experience to be a good learning opportunity. It was, in many aspects, very similar to everything I had experienced during my years at Stony Brook in the journalism department. I think that that speaks well for the experiences we are given at Stony Brook – for the most part I knew exactly what to do and what would be expected of me. It was interesting to see how it worked at an actual paper with many more voices interjecting and taking different roles in the article’s journey to print – rather than one teacher looking at it, there were editors and copyeditors.
There were some things that I had to learn while I was there that were probably more business-specific than related to reporting in general: there was an issue once with assigning photo to take pictures for an article – until this particular day my editors had been assigning photo to events without involving me, and so this is how I thought the system worked until on this day I turned in my story and my editor asked where my photos were, saying that it was my responsibility to assign photo. I had to scramble to set up a photo opportunity and deploy the photographers.
It’s really things like that that I’d wished I’d known. It ended up not really being such a big deal, but it would have saved me some embarrassment and stress if I had. Of course, people had told me to really take advantage of this opportunity – to ask questions at every chance and to throw myself wholeheartedly into whatever assignment I had, even volunteering for stories. I did my best to follow their advice and ask even questions that seemed perhaps stupid, knowing that it was better to ask for clarification at the office than to not be sure of what I was doing once I got to the scene or interview.
Halfway through the internship, I told my editors that I was interested in shadowing a reporter and getting a taste of the food section, and they responded to my curiosity, setting up opportunities for me to try these different experiences.
I am not naturally a very outgoing person, but forcing myself to put these concerns aside ended up paying off for m in the long run, and I think I got a fuller, better experience from it in the end.
Overall, the moral of the story is really just to work hard, be polite and always give your best. The school prepares you for the real world if you don’t take the easy way out or cheat on stories for class just because they’re not “real” articles. Turn in solid stories with good reporting – even if it takes you stepping outside of your comfort zone to get there – and people will be open to helping you out where you need it. Use your internship as a time to build up your clips, sure, but don’t forget that it’s a chance for you to get a feel for the life you will be living. Try writing for different sections. Talk to people about what they experience. Take full advantage of the opportunity an internship affords you.