By Basil John
When applying to the CBS internship program, I didn’t believe I could get it. CBS, a top-level broadcast journalism network, was getting applications from students from Elon University, Syracuse University, Arizona State and Rutgers, the journalism schools that are considered to be THE schools for journalism and communications. Stony Brook just got accredited last year, and I wanted to show what Stony Brook’s J-School could do.
After my group interview, the intern director notified me that I was selected for the internship. It was a moment of shock and awe. Some of my mentors had worked at CBS, and I was honored to join their ranks.
My first day into CBS was a cold one. It was about 23 degrees, but it was bright out. I took my ID, swiped through the gate and took a deep breath. I was walking through a hallway that has been graced with the presence of people such as Charlie Rose, Scott Pelley and Bob Schieffer, the on-air talent I aspired to be like one day.
I was assigned to a department called Broadcast Marketing, not one of the shows, but don’t let the title push you away. Broadcast marketing is an integral part of CBS’ operations. Broadcast marketing could be considered the mitochondria of CBS. Staff there deal with te affiliate relations for all of r CBS News shows. Little did I know, this department was perfect for me.
My first day, I was introduced to my boss, Court Passant, who had been hired by Marcy McGinnis, one of my mentors who had been the network’s senior vice president for news and the former associate dean of Stony Brook’s journalism school. Passant brought me around the department and helped me get settled in. To be honest, I had no idea what in the world I was doing at first. But thanks to my coworkers, I learned a lot. Out of all my coworkers, Marissa Williams helped me most during my process of learning. She took me under her wing and showed me the ins and outs of broadcast marketing.
I would work on teasers for “CBS This Morning” and “The Evening News” allowed me and attended the afternoon meetings for both. But for the most part, I helped with the evening news. Williams sent me revisions as soon as possible to help me improve my writing, and she took me with her for evening news meetings. At first, I felt incredibly intimidated there. Scott Pelley, Steve Capus and Kim Godwin were right in front of me every time. The experiences they have had in journalism are something to be in awe of.
As much as I loved my time at CBS and learned lessons that have shaped my sense of journalism, my internship was not perfect. Even at CBS, some of the negatives that can occur are no different than what goes on at a college newspaper. Gossip and rumors happened frequently, and to an extent, I was used to it. Sadly, one of my most interesting experiences at CBS was meeting with Human Resources.
I had witnessed a coworker of mine being harassed by someone else in my department, and supposedly this had been going on for a while. Seeing my co-worker deal with this was too much, considering how much this person had done for the department. Thus, I spoke on her behalf in a re-telling HR of what occurred. It ruly was an experience I was not expecting during my time at CBS.
It made me realize that even at the top of the journalism world, things like this can happen. If it could happen there, it can happen anywhere, and you never know if you may be subjected to it.
Nevertheless, what I learned during my internship was valuable. These lessons will stay with me for my entire journalism career. I worked hard, and I tried to make as much of an impression as I could. The intern director did ask me if I would consider being in the network’s news associates program once I graduate.
To many, this would be a dream come true, an open avenue to beginning a journalism career as a producer.
That is not my dream, however. I will return to CBS one day, but that day, the camera will be on me, and I will be delivering the news to the nation. First, I’ll hone my craft in a smaller market elsewhere.