By Francesca Campione
Throughout the short nine weeks of my internship at NY1 News, three thoughts became my daily mantra. What a job, what a life, what an experience.
On June 6, I packed my bag while going through a mental checklist: PB&J sandwich: check. Reporter’s notebook and a pen: check and check. Metrocard: check. I didn’t realize it’s what I packed inherently in my heart—curiosity, determination to stand out and willingness to try whatever is thrown at me regardless of the anticipated outcome—is what mattered more for this internship.
Being a New Yorker, I had been to Chelsea Market, NY1’s location, many times. I bought flowers, I ate tacos, I perused the shops. But this time, as I walked through the doors and took elevator 27 (I considered this good luck because the 27th is my birthdate) up, up, up to the 12th floor and through the glass doors of NY1, I realized I had never been there as a journalist. I saw reporters and anchors I recognized from television going over scripts. I saw editors cutting clips. I saw busy staffers answering tip-phones. I started to question whether I was worthy of considering myself a journalist. But then I remembered the important thing that goes before the word journalist: student. I was a student journalist, and I was there to learn.
Luckily, I wasn’t given more time to worry than that.
On the first of my many days out in the field, I watched and learned. The story was about a man who was petitioning to change the Verrazano Bridge signs to include a second ‘z’ because that’s how Giovanni De Verrazzano, the explorer the bridge was named for, actually spelled it. Who knew? When we got back to the newsroom and worked on the final product to air later that night (Whoa! I have never experienced that before!), my mind was blown several times. One: I had never seen anyone work so fast and efficiently in my life as the reporter on that story. Two: Not only was she fast and efficient, she was excellent.
For me, that was a major dose of perspective.
After a single day, I finally understood what professors meant when they said, “If you don’t do your job well, there are 100 people waiting in line to take your job and prove themselves.” I also learned that while I may be a standout in class, my skills are a dime a dozen in the real world. And not only that, people accumulate new skills every day on the job, skills that I haven’t even been exposed to. And so, it is one’s work ethic and attitude that stand out. One last thing, something that I think my fellow broadcast students might be surprised to hear, Final Cut Pro is most likely not what you will use in a real-life, paycheck-giving newsroom. And actually, no matter how much Final Cut may confuse you, it is light years more intuitive than other programs.
While all of that may sound intimidating, which it was, I decided to let it guide me instead of paralyze me. I reminded myself that I was there to learn, and did the only logical thing. I absorbed as much as I could.
Soon I was writing scripts for VO/SOTS and packages that were read on air. (My words!) I edited clips. I interviewed everyone from Mets players to hate-crime victims to elected officials. I spoke with everyone I could in the newsroom, from the security guards, tech operators and anchors to the producers, hiring managers and, of course, the other interns. I even got over my fear of people watching me shoot standups.
It felt really great knowing that the reporters and news assistants that I shadowed thought of me as competent and as an asset to their work. I was able to bring a different perspective to the table and, in some cases help them get something on-air faster. I admit, at first I felt as if I was very slow to understand the editing system and how to write for the preference of each anchor. A word of advice: No one cares if you mispronounce a word several times when tracking or ask a question that seems naive if it helps you learn. They care more about the final outcome and your ability to grow and produce a product.
I did it all, and before I knew it, it was over, and I was walking out the door of Chelsea Market thinking what a job, what a life, what an experience.