Real-world production experience–and more

By Michaela Christman

After spending the Fall 2015 semester interning on “Mornings with Maria,” a Fox Business Network show with Maria Bartiromo, I had the opportunity to return to Fox News Channel to intern on the show “Fox & Friends” during the Spring 2016 semester. Initially, I was stuck between deciding whether to return to my previous assignment or move on to a new show so that I could network with new people.

I chose to switch to a new show, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Here’s why.

On the first day of my assignment, my manager and I met to discuss my previous experience, my goals and what I expected to learn from my new internship. She left off our meeting with a “Have a great time,” and “This internship is what you make of it. You can sit back and not do much, or you can help put together a great show.”

I was supervised by the show’s greenroom producer, meaning that I spent the first half of my day (4:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.  in the greenroom, and the second part (9 a.m. to noon) producing in the office.

In the greenroom, I did everything from grab coffee for the anchors to help out on-set. I met and greeted guests every day, made sure all guests (including remote guests) were ready for their hit times, ran scripts and rundowns to the anchors, and helped to make sure everything was going smoothly for everyone on-set, in the greenroom and in the control room.

At my previous assignment, I had worked in the control room for the entire show, so working in the greenroom allowed me to see more of what every person on the show does, and not just the producers.

Once the show ended, I would head down to the team’s daily pitch meeting where I met with the producers, associate producers, production assistants and writers to pitch story and/or segment ideas. It took a few meetings for me to understand exactly the type of stories the producers were looking for, and segments were a little bit more difficult to pitch than I had expected.

After attending several meetings, I was starting to pitch stories and segments everyone loved. It just took some practice and observation. One of the team’s favorite segments that I pitched was “National Hug a Newsperson Day.” One of our anchors went around NYC with a “hug me” sign.

Pitch meetings were followed by producing segments– my favorite part of the day.

I was responsible for making banners and graphics for segments, finding, cutting and choosing appropriate elements (VOs & SOTs), writing anchor intros and teases, researching topics, and booking transportation for guests.

This was the second internship in which I used iNews to help produce a show, and I can now say that I’m able to use the software comfortably.

The segments I produced have ranged from analyzing the presidential candidates’ health care plans to cooking tips and tricks from the Boy Scouts. I still can’t believe that I’ve produced segments that aired. I never would have expected to do that as an intern, let alone every day that I came in.

I met some amazing people at my internship among both the staff and the guests. I got a great amount of hands-on experience producing and doing other tasks, but I also saw and did things that I didn’t enjoy—which, to me, were just as important.

I was asked, for example, to help produce a segment about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ health care plan ,“Medicare for All,” and I was told to build graphics that listed facts about his plan– but only facts with language that appeared to be negative. I wasn’t comfortable with this.

On my last day, the producers let me read the sports headlines live on air. This is how the team traditionally sends off its interns. Needless to say, this is up there on the list of the “best experiences I’ve ever had.”

This internship and the experience I got from it were unforgettable, and I had the chance to learn so much about the world of broadcast journalism. Waking up at 2 a.m. to get to work was definitely worth it.

I would advise prospective interns to remember to go out of their way to talk with their team. Ask people if they need help, ask how their day is going, say good morning and see you later– don’t be shy. I’m a bit quiet, and I wish that I had snapped out of that earlier on so that I could have built stronger connections with more staff members.

Also, if you’re turned off by strange working hours (like 3 a.m. to noon, or 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.), don’t be scared! I was hesitant to work a shift like that, but now, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Do not be afraid to ask questions. I learned so much about the industry and the job itself just by being curious and asking my supervisor. I would also recommend that you pay attention to the office vibe. You don’t want to be the only one dressed casually when your entire staff is in business attire.

Lastly, leave a good impression. Hand your manager and your supervisor a nice “thank you” note with your contact information on your last day!