Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tampa Tribune Internship: Recap and Wrap Up

This Tuesday was my last day interning with the Tampa Tribune. I've had a great experience interning and writing for Metro.

Walking into the newsroom on Tuesday was definitely surreal, because every week I was there, I felt so comfortable. During the course of my internship, I have become more and more sure each week that this is what I was made to do. I love every aspect of the job. I love the uncertainty. Going in each week, you have no idea what kind of story you are going to write, because it is different each time. I have covered a wide range of topics, and I love that. Each story is different, and it never gets boring. My favorite thing is interviewing people. Depending on the type of story, I like hearing people tell me about what their passionate about, I like hearing each side to every story to allow my story to have that balance. I have heard some powerful and moving stories during this time.

The worst part for me each week was leaving. Because I was only taking internship for two credits, I could only be in the newsroom for seven hours each week. The real walk of shame, I've learned is finally getting on a roll in your story, then having to stop the flow to shut down your laptop and go home for the day. Walking out each day, I debated if I should just bring a sleeping bag in the next week, and camp out under my desk.

Walking in the first day with the other interns, we were so sure that we would be referred to as "intern 1," "intern 2," "intern 3," etc. However, everyone at the Tribune was so welcoming and excited to meet us. Most of the staff knew our names. It was shocking to me to have the managing editor know our full names, who we were writing for, and what section we were with. After introductions, we all were handed reporters journals and press passes. Being the journalism nerds that we all our, obviously we stared at it every hour on the hour, just to make sure it was real. We had our own desks, our own extension number, and our own emails. Prior to coming in, I expected I would maybe sit in the corner of someone's cubicle, or maybe if I was lucky get a chair, and fact check their article before it got published. Honestly, I would have been excited to do this, just because it was in a newsroom, and not a classroom.

This was not the case at all. We all got assignments on our first day. My favorite part about this experience, was that my editor started all of my assignments with, "I don't know how you're going to pull this off," or "I don't know how much you will get accomplished in such a short amount of time, but see how you do," and I pulled it off every time.

I thrive on being challenged, and I love the pressure that being in the newsroom sometimes brings.

I am so grateful for our Professor, Tiffini Theisen for everything she has done for me and all of the other interns this semester. It has truly been an honor getting to learn from you. I have gained so much from Multimedia this year. Who would have thought that I would ever go from not understanding a single aspect of digital to being obsessed with audio, pictures, video and editing?! Thank you for your patience and sharing your experience with us. Thank you for being the guidance that we needed all semester to push us in the right direction, provide advice, and the occasional pep talk that we all need sometimes. You have truly made me a better journalist, and we will miss you so much next year.

I was lucky to work with such hardworking journalists who inspired me and challenged me each day to be a better journalist. Thank you for all of your guidance and pep talks along the way.

What I've Learned:

-Talk to everyone. You never know who someone knows, or what information they have. At my boxing gym, I have met a journalist who works with Nancy Grace, and my trainer has contacts at the sheriffs department. I would have never known this if I wasn't always trying to make small talk with everyone around me. 

-Not every story tip is a story and that's OK. After receiving a tip, do a quick search. Who gave the tip? Are they credible? Is this story interesting? Is it relevant? Is the tip truthful? A quick search will usually be all it takes to determine whether or not you want to pursue the story. 

-Write how you talk. You're not trying to impress anyone, you're trying to convey a story. What is the quickest, most effective way to do this? Write like you're talking to a friend, not like you're practicing for the SAT's. 

-Pay attention in class. Things that come in handy on the job are the things that may not seem important to you at the time. For example, when your professor is teaching you InDesign, or how to look up property assessment or public record. You may not need it then, but you will definitely need it in the future. Also, your professors all have previous experience in the industry. Listen to their advice. Ask them about their career path and what jobs they've had and how they got to where they are. 

-Not everyone will call you back or answer your emails, they often "forget." Persistence. Call back three, four, five times. Leave emails and follow up. Do whatever it takes. 

-Follow up. Sometimes, your story will change before publication. Follow up with details to make sure they are still relevant before your story is published.

-Stay open minded. You do not direct the story, the details that unfold will direct you. What you think is the main idea of the story, may not be the main idea at all. This point may change several times as more details come to light. 

-Every story has at least three sides: side A, side B, and the truth. 

-Don't say "asshole" in the newsroom. More than one person will turn around at any given moment.

-Get quotes from both sides. As a journalist, you do not want to have bias in your story. Get both sides of the story and get enough information that will allow your reader to formulate their own conclusion. 

-Keep a source book. As you gather contacts, it helps to store them in one place to stay organized. You will often use the same sources so you want to have this information on hand. 

-Keep your eyes and ears open. You never know where you'll find a story. 

-Don't bring chili to the newsroom, it smells. (see: Tuna). There should be a chapter on this in the next edition of the AP Stylebook.

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