The Spokesman-Review : interns

Friday, August 04, 2006

Shefali: Internship Cake

I have about one week left of my internship here, and I'm not going to lie: there is a temptation to kick back and relax for the last week of your internship. After working on story after story it is exhausting; constantly working under the pressure of a deadline, harsh critique from editors that all have different styles. This isn't an easy job.

Working as a reporter is much more than just reporting. I think I'm picking up on that after my 10 weeks here. Working in the newsroom means we make impressions on people--from our cubicle neighbor to our editor. That is one thing this internship really taught me.

My advice to those interning for the first time, or interested in journalism is this: don't slack in your last few weeks at your internship. Often times that is when everyone is watching you the most; paying the close attention to what you are doing or not doing, how persistent you are with stories and how much initiative you show when your 'to-do' pile runs low.

I'm realizing that as an intern we make lasting impressions with our co-workers and editors-it's important that those impressions are in good form.

Recently, a story I was working on for about 2.5 weeks was lost in our computer system. My editor informed me and I rewrote the whole thing the following day in about 4 hours. It was irritating because I remembered certain sentences I carefully crafted in my first version of the story, but couldn't remember what context they were in. I eventually wrote a whole new story.

(*side note*)The story doesn't change but how we tell it does. So don't worry if you have to rewrite a whole story-in the end it could be better than what you had first written. My editor liked my second version better.

Do what it takes to keep up good morale. No matter what! If you've made a mistake, don't show it. Apologize and then move on. (Remember: Chin Up) If that means dressing up a little sharper to make you feel better, or if it means coming to work a little earlier to get a head start on the day---whatever it is, DO IT, because it can be the icing on the cake (and by cake, I mean your internship).

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Parker: College journalist jailed for refusing subpeona

The latest casualty in the ongoing struggle by journalists to protect their sources, a freelance college-age journalist is in jail tonight following his refusal to turn over videotape of a 2005 G8 protest in San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that Joshua Wolf, 24, will be detained until he hands over the tapes or until the grand jury that is investigating the 2005 protest riot expires in next summer.

This ruling should be alarming to all journalists, but especially student journalists who are not backed by the legal and financial support of news corporations; this isn't the first time authorities have subpoenaed young journalists. Because of such situations, some journalism advocates have called for creation of a national shield law that would protect journalists from being forced to turn their notes, photographs or video over to law enforcement for evidence purposes. The Spokesman-Review's editorial on the subject from this winter is online here.

Another interesting wrinkle is that he has posted some video from the protest on his Web site. Although dark, the footage shows black-clad protestors marching through downtown San Francisco. Ironically, the major destructive act shown on the tape is people dragging newspaper distribution boxes into the street. I guess freedom of the press only applies to media you support.

Alsup makes an interesting but short-sighted point by saying that the event was public and thus Wolf doesn't have a right to control resulting images. However, as journalists point out, turning over information to law enforcement makes journalists seem like an extension of the government. This contradicts journalists' role as a watchdogs who inform citizens about how their representatives are working for them.

Do you support a shield law? Is Alsup correct in stating in his ruling that journalists should be held to the same standards as all citizens, including the president? Let’s get some discussion going about this.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The War in Iraq News Page

The War in Iraq Sunday news page created by interns Sarah and Carrie generated a lot of discussion and curiosity from our readers. For those who are outside of the Spokesman Review's circulation click here to get a PDF version of their informative news page.

Thank You and Keep Reading!

~The Spokesman Interns~

Monday, July 31, 2006

Jared: Knowing places; providing a sense of place

I've learned through my internship experiences the importance of knowing places, geographically, I mean. Before I came to Spokane I posted a small tourist map of downtown on my apartment wall and studied it as I brushed my teeth in the morning. Sometimes it made me late for school, but I think it helped me get some idea of where things are. I also studied a map of Grants Pass before I went down there to report last summer.

If you're not familiar with an area, it can be a real challenge to report in a new city, especially on breaking news where 'place' is especially important. It can be really hard to take time to figure out where you're going on a tight deadline.

I would recommend studying maps, but also go to Google Maps and study recent satellite images of areas. Later, they will help you understand where you are.

Some people discount the importance of 'place.'
Don't.
Study the way a place looks, what it borders, how it feels. Learn cardinal and relative directions. These things can all give you an idea of what to expect while on assignment.

When you're on assignment, it's obviously important to talk to the people who know the story, whether they're experts, witnesses, neighbors, etc... But take a minute and take some notes on the 'place,' scribbling details that will help bring it alive for your readers. Much news happens somewhere, not on white memos buried in filing cabinets in a stifling bureaucratic environment. Tell readers what that place is like. Even though you may be new in town, your long-time resident readers probably won't know what every place is like, and if they do, they won't mind the descriptions. It might even help them connect with the story.

In short: Study streets, districts, regions, cardinal directions, etc... And when you get to those areas, show your readers you were there.


 
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