The Spokesman-Review : interns

Monday, August 14, 2006

Get your own bathroom; dealing with sources who hate your paper

Note: If you're a student ready to take an internship is another city, pay attention to this.

Get your own bathroom.

That's one of my biggest pieces of advice for you incoming interns. These people who live on my floor and with whom I'm sharing a bathroom are disgusting. If it's not puke that's left in the middle of the floor or muddy water on the floor, it's stealing my soap and using my shampoo. Or its knocking a clock I got when I was a litle kid with my own money at Wildlife Safari and leaving it sitting in water next to the tub. Or it's the pile of what looks like molding crap under the freestanding tub.

Whatever you do, get your own bathroom. Living downtown has been wonderful, and my place is very cheap, allowing me to start saving money to pay back the student loans (or at least pay off the $70 in parking tickets the University of Oregon finally asked me to collect on.) But, if you can, get your own bathroom. You'll thank me.

Now for something different.

One thing that has struck me as a reporter here in Spokane is how even though I'm new to the paper, I become the target of people pre-existing feelings about the paper. Sometimes, it's good, and they welcome you because the've had good experiences with the paper. Othertimes, you incur the anger and bias people have toward it.

It may not be fair, but that's the way it works.

Dealing with it isn't hard though. For sources that may have talked to the paper before (those you contact when doing stories about annual events, or those who represent organizations especially) read back stories that have been written about them. And if you can, talk to the reporter to ask how they are ahead of time. If they hate the paper, you might be able to get more information from them by pointing out at the beginning of the interview that you're new to town. Then, hopefully, they'll realize it isn't fair to treat you like dirt because of where you work.

Sometimes it helps just to ask them about their relationship with the paper, especially if you can tell they don't like you. You don't have to say anything. Just ask questions about how they feel and past experiences. They may be wrong, but your job isn't to debate about whether


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