By Jasmine Blennau
At News 12 Long Island, I was a hybrid intern. Half of my time I was an editorial intern, and the other half I was a technical intern. This meant that I could learn all sides of what goes into making TV news. I worked in the control room and the studio, in newsgathering and editing, and on the assignment desk. Understanding the different roles people have in the newsroom was important to me because I wanted to figure out whether I could see myself in those roles one day.
News 12 treats its interns like employees, which includes assigning them to late-night and early-morning shifts. Working from 4:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. made me feel even more immersed in the industry.
“I woke up at three in the morning to go to work,” I thought to myself. “I must be a real newsperson now!”
I loved it. Once I even did an overnight with the morning producer to see how the show is put together from scratch.
My experience made me think about what I wanted for my future. When I applied for the internship, I knew I did not want to be a reporter. The technical side of the studio interested me, and I knew I liked producing. I was lucky to meet News 12 employees who could help me learn about both.
Kevin Benjamin, a director at News 12 Long Island, became my mentor because of his storytelling. He transformed his years of experience into wise words while we operated cameras in the control room. He told me about starting in the business, doing camerawork for free to get his name out, then directing a variety of shows.
The most valuable lesson I learned from him was: Always be prepared. This goes deeper than checking over your show before you go live, or remembering to change the batteries in the cueing system. He taught me that when it comes to getting that next job, it isn’t enough to be in the right place at the right time. You have to be the person who is at the right place at the right time and the person who is prepared to do the job. If you have your eye on a position, you need to do everything you can to be the one to get that spot when it opens up.
I decided to make that the goal of my internship. When there was a spot to fill, a task to be done, I would be the one to volunteer to do it. I would learn as much as possible to prepare for my opportunity.
Throughout the summer, I was able to contribute whenever I found someone who could use a hand. I pulled video from archives, wrote time codes, answered viewer phone calls, found story ideas, ran the TelePrompTer and shadowed directors. I was determined to take advantage of being at a real station.
On my last day at News 12, my opportunity to prove myself arrived. The morning production assistant called in sick, and because of a glitch in the system, nobody was notified that she needed a fill-in. The team I had been working with for weeks was short one person. The morning producer, Alex Dollin, said he was happy I was there to take on the PA responsibilities. I was ready—a little nervous, but ready. The show went smoothly, and I proved to my team, and to myself, that I was capable and responsible.
News 12 exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend its internship program because after finishing it, I feel confident in my abilities. I feel that I can apply for an entry-level position and know that I have a shot. In the future, I hope to work there and to learn more about how to put on an informative, accurate and clean show.
My advice for SOJ students who want to work in television is to start writing for broadcast as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to apply for local internships in radio and television because you are young. All it takes is for one person to give you a chance. When you get that chance, make sure to ask your supervisor for feedback on your performance. You don’t have to wait for evaluation time to get advice on how to do your job better. As an intern, I was always doing my best, but if I could do it again, I would regularly communicate with my executive producer on what I could do to perform at a higher level.