Welcome to my blog, where I will do my best to entertain you with tales of my newsroom internship. I’m working at the copy and design desk for The News Tribune (Tacoma’s premier daily newspaper) this summer. You may be wondering why in the world I’d want to intern in a newsroom during such an uncertain time for print journalism. Well, I’m not 100 percent certain of why either, but I do know that I believe newspapers are crucial watchdogs for our society, (hopefully) producing well-written stories with credible sources and keeping readers informed about local, national and world news. Newspapers are often accused of not adhering to these ideals, but I can assure you that despite extreme budget cuts and rapidly transforming job duties, newsroom employees are striving to create a paper chock full of good journalism (or as full as it can be with the copy sandwiched in between an inundation of ads).
Do you sense a hint of resentment? Well, you could say that the reporters I chat with are rubbing off on my attitude. However, I’m trying to stick to The News Tribune president and publisher David Zeeck’s advice, “Don’t be bitter; be perceptive.”
Although it’s tough to not become overwhelmed by feelings of nostalgia for the press’s better days (yes, even I remember these!), the future is unavoidable and has already revamped newspapers in a multitude of positive ways. Think multimedia stories and of-the-minute news available online. The increasing technology behind the traditional newspaper may be unfamiliar (and at the moment, revenue-zapping), but I do not think there is an end in sight for the field of journalism. Resentment over the poor state of the newspaper industry aside, there is a palpable sense in The News Tribune newsroom of working for something bigger; a sense of serving a higher purpose.
News Tribune Editor in Chief Karen Peterson wrote an inspiring column a few weeks ago about summer interns, which you can read by visiting http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/05/30/1206169/spark-of-summer-interns-returns.html. I hope the keen comments provided by a couple of my fellow interns make you feel significantly more hopeful about the future of journalism. They did for me.
As far as my actual intern duties go, I can be found doing anything from watching my mentor crop a photo of the Tacoma Rainier’s beloved mascot Rhubarb for local news column “The Nose” to working on print and web page design, but during a great deal of the time I am having conversations. I’ve talked to reporters, editors, photographers, human resources and upper management. Our conversations have ranged from mundane to hilarious to serious. I’ve realized that everyone has a story to share that teaches me more about them, and in turn, about being a journalist.
As I reflect on my days and nights at The News Tribune thus far, I can recall a large number of conversations that have made an impression on me. So, TNT employees, if you’re reading this, thanks for taking the time to chat with me! Because talking is really what my newsroom internship boils down to: learning through conversation.
In fact, isn’t conversation what journalism itself is all about? I frequently hear editors debate about which stories are better “talkers.” The “talkers” often make it onto the front page, but more importantly, the talkers provoke conversation amongst readers. Furthering the depth of this idea of conversation, the reporters write their stories based on conversations they had with interviewees. And finally, the act of reading a news story itself is sort of like conversing with your reporters; really, the degrees of separation between the reader and the subject of the story are not innumerable. When we think of stories as conversations, they become more approachable. Perhaps staying informed about current events is not as impossible as it sometimes seems. I’ve come to the conclusion that part of the solution to keeping up with the news involves having more conversations.
The future of journalism is ever-changing, yet in this time of great uncertainty for print media there operates a dedicated mass of underpaid, overworked reporters and editors, striving to deliver not only the daily news, but often quite a bit more. Being a small part of this daunting task has made for quite the summer internship, and I can truthfully say I’ve enjoyed (almost) every minute of it.
Keep reading for upcoming stories of my printing press tour, page design ventures and get-togethers with local reporters!