by Joe Malone
Long Island Business News is a weekly newspaper with three reporters and three editors. I first discovered Long Island Business News when I was e-mailed about the internship opening. I went onto libn.com and was impressed by both the website’s content and design. Most of the articles were blocked by a paywall, but each story had a descriptive headline and informative one-line abstract. The site’s presentation and selection of local news was far better than the local news source that I am used to (Newsday). My impression from browsing libn.com was that the people behind it were savvy and it would be valuable to see how it is all done.
It was surprising to find out that there is just one person in charge of the website. When I met the web editor, John Callegari, I learned that it is run by WordPress, which I am familiar with from using it in a past course.
When I arrived at the Ronkonkoma office for my first day, John showed me how to post items to the Movers & Shakers section of the website. Movers & Shakers, which also run in the weekly print issues, are blurbs that publicize business people who either move to a new job or get promoted. John instructed me on the process: copy the blurb from a Word doc and paste it into WordPress, write a headline, add tags to enhance search engine optimization, add hyperlinks, crop a photo into a square and resize it to 300 x 300, add the photo into two sections of WordPress, select the relevant category and author, and finally click on ‘save draft’ or ‘publish.’
Adding Movers & Shakers to the website was good practice for using WordPress, but thankfully I also spent plenty of time working on articles. I was assigned to re-write press releases into news style, and also to write stories dependent on my own reporting. Before interning with LIBN, I did not realize the prestige for press releases in the job of journalists. I learned that most story ideas come from press releases, and getting used to re-writing them would be essential. Often I made phone calls to get original quotes or gather more information. A handful of times, I went to events, like a press conference or groundbreaking ceremony, to get quotes and facts. My deadlines were often not stringent, so I spent a good deal of time preparing questions before doing interviews. Exercising question development was among the top things I got out of this internship.
The editors generally complimented my work, but also gave me feedback about style errors, or information that should have been included. Since the purpose of the internship was for me to learn, it was always nice when one of the editors gave me constructive comments about my articles.
My first internship, with Long Island Business News, introduced me to the basics of how professional journalists perform and the operation of a real newspaper/news-site. I feel more prepared for my next opportunity, and hopefully I will get the chance to have another internship before graduating so I am even more ready for succeeding in a professional job.