By Jimin Kim
The Newsday Effect:
Newsday got me hooked on journalism. Heading into my summer Newsday writing internship, I was web editing, producing video stories and managing social media. I wondered if classic writing and reporting was for me. After 10 weeks interning and publishing nearly 30 stories, I love writing and reporting.
On my first day at Newsday on June 8, 2015, I met my fellow interns. They were from places as far as California and Nebraska. Three of them were from Stony Brook University like me.
I realized what a fortunate position I had been in growing up on Long Island. Many of the interns trekked across the country to break into the coveted New York market. Newsday was our start.
We were taken on a tour of the printing department in the basement of Newsday’s Melville headquarters. The work that goes into delivering a copy of Newsday to thousands of people each morning was mind-boggling. It was humbling to see hundreds of people hard at work and the speed of the presses.
Upstairs in the newsroom, dozens of writers and editors typed away while others formatted story designs for next day’s paper.
My two editors, Janet Day and Steve Wick, are two of some of the most respected editors at Newsday. I would be covering the Long Island Towns section.
My first story was about small plastic beads found in facial scrubs polluting the Long Island Sound. An environmental group protested the beads at Stony Brook Beach. To make the story not just a conference recap, I spoke with a Stony Brook University marine scientist about how plastic beads harm the environment.
I arrived the next morning and found my byline in the paper. I was exhilarated to see the fruits of my labor so soon.
I completed a variety of news and feature stories. In the beginning, I shouldn’t have tried to make every story I wrote a masterpiece.
For instance, I should have been faster when writing about a Greek Orthodox church where its altar burned down in West Babylon in late July. After speaking with the heartbroken reverend and his crying parishioners, I vividly portrayed the fire’s destruction and my sources’ emotions in my story. But, I should have written the story sooner so my editor could correct it and quickly put it on the web before publishing it in the paper the next day.
In later stories, I found a balance between being urgent and writing well.
The most challenging assignment was speaking with a mother of one of the survivors of the limo crash that killed four out of eight women in Cutchogue in July 2015. I drove to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and Stony Brook University Hospital for two days and waited hours in the hospital waiting rooms. I made numerous phone calls to the survivors’ friends and relatives to no response. One afternoon, as the mother of a survivor was leaving the hospital, I followed her. She told me, “She’s going to be fine,” regarding her daughter in the hospital. She quickly entered her husband’s car and drove away.
Although I couldn’t fully interview her, I wasn’t disheartened. I developed a fluid line of communication with the hospital’s PR representative who gave me basic condition updates of the survivors and if they would be discharged. For my reporting, my byline appeared in a story Newsday’s reporters wrote as a team about the aftermath of the limo crash.
Of all my stories, I’m proudest of the three I personally pitched to my editors, including an article about heightened DWI patrols in Long Beach.
My favorite story I pitched is about Aljamain Sterling, an undefeated professional mixed martial artist in the Ultimate Fighting Championship giving back to his hometown of Uniondale. Sterling has been coaching the Uniondale High School wrestling team for the past two years while beating some of the world’s best fighters. I train mixed martial arts and this gave me a chance to write a story that transcended the sport and intrigued a wider audience.
For any journalism student considering the Newsday writing internship, I strongly recommend it. It provides opportunities to work on diverse stories and truly tests a student’s resilience. Interns will learn to meet deadlines, develop original stories, cultivate sources and learn how to work with a team in a real newsroom.
My internship challenged me to come up with original stories and not sit on my hands in the newsroom. I’ll be a freelance writer for Newsday as I enter my senior year at Stony Brook University. Although I’m certainly open to other opportunities, I’m motivated to pursue writing because of my Newsday internship. More importantly, I’m driven to reach my full potential.