A picture from one of the favourite stories I wrote during my internship.
My internship at the Free Press is coming to an end. I only have two shifts left, before I head back to the busy state of being a full time student and part time employee.
I've learned so much from my experience at the Free Press; four-and-a-half months of journalism classes didn't seem like enough preparation for this gig; or at least that's what I thought in my first couple of days...
Now that I have almost finished my internship, I think I can safely say that there are no amount of classes that can prepare someone for an opportunity like this. (Don't get me wrong, I learned a great deal in school. My J instructor, Steve Vogelsang, did an incredible job in teaching me, and I did come a long way in that four months...But, the news room is a whole different ball game than a class room.)
I came into the Free Press not really knowing what to expect. -- My work for the Projector (My school newspaper) was rarely edited, and I figured that made me "good." However, once I got to here, to a "daily", things were quite a bit different.
Here are some of the things I will take from this experience...
I learned that all stories are important to somebody. -- For some of the stories and articles that I wrote, I didn't have an instant connection with the subject that I was writing about. Heck, sometimes I didn't know anything about the subject at all! (Take ice fishing, an article that will be in an upcoming issue. When the story was first assigned to me, my initial reaction was: "You have got to be kidding me!" However, after talking to some people who really enjoy the sport, and who have made it their passion, I realized that the story was a good idea! I actually started to enjoy hearing the stories, and meeting the people connected to these stories. I learned quite a bit, and realized that sometimes (if you want to get a good story) you need to open your mind, and look at things (like ice fishing) through the eyes of the people that you are writing for.
I learned that criticism, failing, and rejection is just par for the course. -- Like I said earlier; having my work heavily edited (only sometimes) is a tough pill to swallow. When you have put everything you've got into a piece of writing, only to have it changed, your morale dips. Although, if you can find it in yourself to look at it constructively, and not take it personally, you will learn that it's nothing personal. This is why editors exist.
I learned that people are going to perceive things the way that they want to. -- When I wrote my piece about FASD and car thieves, the response was incredible! I got angry emails for an entire week from people telling me I was wrong, or that I was (essentially) stupid. (Nobody actually called me any names, but there was a lot of alluding going on! -- Perhaps my own unjustified perceptions...) But really, as a reporter your job is to tell a story. You may not agree with it, or you may really believe in it; either way, you have to try and leave those biases out.
I learned that even though this industry is "cut throat", the people who are you biggest competitors are also your biggest allies. -- I know that I am entering into a field that is essentially "dying", and realistically we should all be backstabbing each other to secure ourselves a spot on the sinking ship. But, the journalists that I have worked with have all been exceptionally helpful to me. (I can't tell you how awkward it is to be the new kid amongst people who are good at what you want to be good at; but they have all helped me along the way, and I am ever so grateful!)
I've learned that you are only as good as your last story. -- I was riding high on Christmas Eve with two pieces that I felt so completely connected to, and that I thought were awesome pieces of (barely edited) work, only to stumble in the following days. Sometimes stories are so good they write themselves; sometimes they're not. If you get too cocky in this business, thinking that you cannot stumble along the way, your fall from the pedestal will be hard and painful.
I've also learned that a reporter should be like a girl guide/boy scout, and always be prepared! -- Attending a fatal car accident on highway 9, I wore a dress and little heels. I was FREEZING! I assumed that since it was Christmas Eve, it would be slow, and I wouldn't have to leave the newsroom. I was wrong. Never assume...
I learned that this is not a comfortable job. -- I loved every second of it, but I worked my butt off! It is obvious in my articles (at least to myself) how hard I worked, or how much harder I could have worked, on any given day...
This has been an incredible opportunity, and I am truly grateful for this experience.