“Call on God, but row away from the rocks.” – Hunter S. Thompson
For some, yes, internships go like butter. For me, not so much. And I am not saying it was bad, or even really difficult. Yeah, there were times it was challenging me with a new experience, which meant I had to adjust, but nothing that really threw me a 100-mph curve ball. That is the honest truth. So why am I saying that it didn’t go like butter? Or the reason I titled this “The rush, nervousness and sheer chaos?”
It has nothing to do with the work. There was certainly a ton right at the end, but only because of my own lack of attention, of course. To get to the point, this week is the end of my first real internship. The Colorado Daily was awesome. I officially am more head over heals about journalism than I was when I started. It’s a rush. A rush of nervousness combined with sheer chaos. For me, nothing beats it. Im hooked.
WOAH…the end of my first internship..now what? My case exactly. This is when the real rush of nervousness and sheer chaos ensue.
Here is my advice.
People who ask me, “what are you going to do now?” I tell them that this game I play is a game of chess. I make a move, stay a bit. Finish that move up and make my next. The whole point is to work your way up the ladder. A lot of hard work needs to go in and yeah, maybe that first internship won’t be what you thought you could do, but that’s life. You go into the next opportunity with what you got and expecting to come out the other end with even more. So far, it is working to my benefit. My hard work and concept of taking opportunities as they come is paying off. Though, I have to make my next move. Times up. For those of you who know me, like I say, that’s life.
From USA TODAY COLLEGE, here are 5 things to look at and keep in mind when you finish up an internship.
As a journalist, someone says to you at some point that “it’s your duty to serve the public interest.” Correct, it is. We do that by finding and confirming the truth. Some will argue, though, that the truth in its most prime state is too much to handle for some. Correct, it is. In light, I question the line of thinking that says the news must be subjected to ‘gagging’ if there is a threat posed by the public interest in the truth, or facts.
Is it alright for the media to allow to be gagged and not release the truth? To the more extreme, is it okay for the media to publish a story and choose certain facts to be left out?
Patrick L. Smith said in a opinion on Salon:
“Responsible journalists grasp their ethical responsibilities, worry not about where chips fall and do their jobs, and in so doing are good citizens. That is how they contribute to security and safety. The rest is a swamp. Advocating, collapsing boundaries, making a “we-and-they” of the world are not the tasks of journalists. Claiming the right to decide what people should and should not know is preposterous—so stupid one cannot even call it arrogant.”
I believe he is right and being realistic. I believe that the truth should not be a ‘pick-and-choose’ type of process that can possibly shed the public’s trust from media. There are a lot of different reasons for things needing censored before release, but I don’t condone the idea, though, I realize that some measures need be taken in extreme cases. Patrick L. Smith, for me, is being realistic and taking the question in hand. Approaching the subject, which is very debatable and giving the journalistic approach that most of us should take to considering.
We are only as strong as our weakest link and the truth makes sure those links are strengthened. We cannot choose to make a chain with certain links when all the links are needed to support responsible journalism and the truthful right of a journalist to serve the public interest.
You have gone through the whole process of the interview: getting the sit-down, researching the subject, creating questions and follow-ups, fact-checking and the whole 9-yards. But besides all the pre-work, you still have uneasiness, possibly a feeling of being unsure on how correct your voice neutrality is , or correct quotation is, or facts and so on. And you think, maybe it can be solved by sending your article pre-published to the source for a “quick look” and see if everything is right? Sure, why not, it doesn’t seem that bad you may say. Especially in the instances when the subject uses lots of jargon, or says those big scientific words that can boggle the average mind. To me, why not? What would it hurt to make sure you are correct?
Well, the standard is don’t do it. The ethical nature of such is frowned upon by professionals and potential hirers. Though, I have had several run-ins with this issue, times that I was unsure and the only people that could clarify seemed to be the sources. Here is what happened to me:
I was writing a feature article for Rooster Magazine about Wild Goose Canning , a self-built canning company that builds automated assembly line machines for breweries that can their craft beers, like UpSlope Brewery. The two had met by a fortune of events, mostly possible because of the love for beer, but the founding story was a wild one, nonetheless. Both WGC and UpSlope had their stories about how it started, yes, they were both real accounts of the same event, but at the same time different. Compiling and then telling a single narrative for how WGC was founded was posing to be difficult and I didn’t want to misrepresent anyone, or any facts. Being a young journalist, I was convinced that any mistake was going to be the walk off the plank for me. (Which is not the case and mistakes happen, just own up to them before someone else does.)
I remember thinking about sending the article to the sources to clarify if I was factually accurate, and I did, sort of. I didn’t send the entire article. I took the sentences containing the most information about the founding event I had questions about and sent them to both parties. I laid the email out so after they read the segment of the article I needed clarification on, I wrote, “Is this what happened?” For me, in my opinion, this is OK to do. If you can basically send them the straight facts and not the whole article, what else is it other than fact checking?
I can see why their would be ethical issues for letting a source see the article before it was published. Things like convincing the author to not, or to use certain facts and quotes. Things like promoting a bad image for the paper or magazine. But in some cases, very special cases, it is OK to fact check with sources and subjects. If you think that you have information heavy enough to constitute an ethical reasoning to show a source the article, go for it.
Note: This is not something to be taken lightly, some editors can and will fire you. You can lose respect, trust and a career via a unethical decision. A person must choose what kind of journalist they are going to be, both ethically and morally.
Since being at the Colorado Daily for my internship my editor will probably agree that I have pitched a fair number of article ideas revolving around fishing and water. And in a broader sense, sports and outdoor recreation. Why? Well, that involves me going back to what I have been saying in this blog the whole time — I am creating my career. Now known by me, and probably always known by other professionals in the business, a portfolio has to have direction and even better, a niche. Note: 8-times out of 10, you won’t have a choice on what you write, but when you pitch an idea, think about creating that “thing you want to be known for.”
I was in conversation with John Hendrickson, the Entertainment Editor at Digital First Media, about pursuing my next internship, which first starts with an application to the publisher offering the position, The Denver Post. In retrospect, this application is one of the more important moves I’ll attempt to make, so all that said, I am nervous. Hendrickson, though, helped me understand how to bring myself to the table. Also, how to pursue a niche and better, how to pursue a first-tier job.
“You gotta swing for the fences, sure,” Hendrickson told me, “but you gotta be confident with what sort of muscle you have, first.” And, what he is talking about is having a group of articles that all follow the same beat in your portfolio. For me, I always am pitching articles about fishing and water, because I am attempting to make myself known for the subject. I want my niche to be sports and outdoor recreation, following mainly fly fishing. To do that, I am building my muscles by trying to always aim for my niche when possible.
“It’s great to have a mix and it’s great to try your hand at different things when you’re getting started,” Hendrickson said. “But when it comes to applying and hoping to get one of those first-tier internships like the Post, you’ll be expected to present 5-10 very strong clips that would fall under one general area of interest.” His conversation inevitably got me thinking in the right direction, and it is good advice for all young journalists. It’s important for when I go into the room, where I gotta belly-up to the table for a position in the news room. Because, yes, like John H. said, it’s crucial to have a broad range of abilities to cover a wide range of beats, but you gotta have that one thing you can offer a “expert” opinion on. Craft you niche and be able to bring a hard fight when approaching the table.