By Lauren Fetter
Sitting in a cubicle surrounded by beeping phones, the soft sound of fingers furiously typing on a keyboard and the clamor of reporters discussing the latest news outbreak, I stared at the Macbook Pro in front of me as I nervously waited for one of my editors, Kaydi Poirier, to give me my first assignment. It was my first day as an intern for Newsday.com’s Entertainment section, and my job for the next 11 weeks would be to remain up-to-date on the latest in celebrity news while helping Poirier successfully run the page. I did not know what I was in for.
Throughout my time at Newsday, my role as a web producer involved moving stories from print to web formats, writing several small stories of my own and using creative means to add more content to the site. I had known that taking on a web-based internship would be challenging and fast-paced because of the nature of the Internet. There is no down time, and the news cycle is always changing, even in entertainment. But just a few days in, I was asked to write several short pieces known as viral posts about topics that were trending on Google or Facebook.
The nature of these posts is that they are quick and easy to read. The newspaper uses them to bring traffic to the website. Though I enjoyed seeing my byline and writing something for the publication, none of these posts are self-reported. Instead, the content is heavily attributed to other entertainment outlets. These articles are important, however, as Newsday has a growing online presence and is the main source of news for many Long Islanders.
While creating photo galleries with topics ranging from binge-worthy movies to former correspondents on “The Daily Show,” I also watched the AP wire and updated Newsday’s website with the latest entertainment news. I became familiar with Polopoly, the publication’s content management system, though it often made my five-hour work days drag because it moved so slowly, a fact that every reporter I came in contact with on the first day warned me about.
For the 11 weeks I interned at Newsday, I balanced a full course load, a part-time job and 20 hours per week at the Melville office. Six weeks into my internship, I was asked to switch from Sundays to Saturdays so I could run the entire section on my own. Looking back on the first Saturday, I spent five hours alone at my cubicle, posting stories and hoping I could make it through the day without any issues occurring. By the time I ended my internship, my editors were very pleased with my work, as well as my ability to keep everything moving smoothly, though I had only been on my own for a few weeks.
Ultimately, I learned many things during my internship besides the fundamentals of running and maintaining a website and attracing traffic and readership. I had originally considered the thought of working at an online publication post-graduation as a producer of some kind. But I discovered that I really do have a love for reporting, and although I gained a number of skills this semester, I would like to pursue a career in which I can report and write my own pieces. I also gained confidence in my abilities after I was put in charge of the entire section. I made effective decisions and judgment calls, and my editors congratulated me on a job well done.
I am happy with the work I completed, as well as the skills and knowledge I gained while working at Newsday. I would recommend this internship to students who are interested in web-based journalism and production, as they are fully immersed in keeping a publication’s website up and running. I am looking forward to future internships and a lengthy career in reporting.