Reporter’s Assistant Gets To Do It All

by Jaclyn Lattanza

Before beginning my internship as a reporter’s assistant at News 12 Long Island, I was very excited for the opportunity to have a hands-on experience at my local television station. I was eager to learn the ins and outs of being a reporter including being out in the field, accepting story assignments, doing research and most importantly, working under a daily deadline. After completing two months of shadowing some of the best reporters at News 12 Long Island, I am happy to say that I experienced all of that and more.

I was paired with anchor and reporter Danielle Campbell. When she was not on the schedule, I was with a different reporter. I worked a long day, starting at 7 a.m. and finishing when all of the work was done, which sometimes meant leaving the station at 6 p.m. Regardless of how long I was there each day, I enjoyed what I was doing.

My typical day started out with reading over Danielle’s anchor scripts with her. It is her responsibility to copyedit and approve each story before she goes on air. Then I would watch her co-anchor the 8 a.m. newscast with Doug Geed from inside the studio or the control room.

Watching professionals anchor a live newscast is such an interesting experience. The first time I watched from inside the studio, I was shocked to see that there was no floor director or camera operator for the whole hour that they are on air. The only people who are in the studio are the on-air talent, which, in the morning, consists of two anchors, weather, traffic and entertainment. After watching the broadcast from the control room, I quickly realized that most of the behind the scenes work happens in a room that is right next to the studio where the director, producer, assistant producer and camera operator all are. It is their responsibility to communicate with the on-air talent through their IFB earpieces to give them any story updates and cues that they might need.

After watching Danielle anchor the newscast, I went to the morning meeting with her. There, the news director, assignment editor, producers and reporters discuss what stories need to be covered that day; what angle the story should have; and if there are any interviews already set up by the assignment desk. After Danielle received her story assignment, we left the meeting and went to her office to start doing research and making phone calls. After we set up all of our interviews, we found our photographer and left the station.

I was very fortunate, as an intern, to have the opportunity to go out into the field and shadow reporters. I had a great time conducting interviews and even filming my own mock standups to put into my reel.

Once we got back to the station, I helped Danielle log each interview, pick sound bites, and write her script. One of my favorite parts of this process was watching the news director copyedit her script. I know that I’ve become a better writer and even reporter after just listening to his critiques.

The last steps of this daily process was tracking in the sound booth and then working with the photographer to put together the final piece.

After just two months, I learned that being a reporter is not easy. It takes a lot of knowledge of the business and flexibility to be able to get your story in before the deadline. It also takes teamwork; one reporter cannot do it alone. I learned that the sound of your voice is as important as the way you look. And one of the most important things I learned was that no one is perfect. The story is never going to be exactly the way you want it to be, but that’s what comes with the job. And with that, reporters need to accept criticism and learn from their mistakes.

Before I started this internship, I wish I knew more about all of the reporter shifts. It was only until the last couple of weeks of my internship that I learned about the other shifts that I could go on. I did get a chance to go out into the field on the morning shift and on the night shift once, but I wish I had gone out more.

I hope that students who are considering applying for an internship at News 12 Long Island make the most of their experience. They should always act professionally and definitely meet and work with as many people as they can. They should always agree and offer to do any work that is asked of them. It is also very important for them to always ask questions. From my experience, the professionals want to know that you are interested in what you are doing. And lastly, do everything with confidence.

I am so grateful for my experience at News 12 Long Island. Everyone there welcomed me with open arms and was interested in helping me learn and improve. I have received so much great advice that I will definitely cherish and implement into my future work. After shadowing reporters at News 12 Long Island for two months, I feel confident that I can make it in this business.