Spring 2010 Site ReviewPosition: Journalism Intern (Austin, TX - KXAN)
Student: English/Philosophy Junior
I work for KXAN as a web editor/writer. At first, I thought it was unusual to come into a news station as a liberal arts major (English and Philosophy). The question burdening my parents (and admittedly my own) minds were, ‘What are you going to do with those degrees?’ I had a vague idea, I wanted to write. I love writing. I also love people and their stories. So, I applied for the web intern position at KXAN. The interview highlight included “You do you know facebooking is not a verb or a word, right?”
Days vary. It’s the news, so there is no “day in the life”, it is part of why the internship was so attractive to me. I strive off of new projects and ideas. Some afternoons, I’d come in and edit video for the Youtube portion of the site, stringing together play lists and writing descriptions for the user. Other days, I would transcribe Associated Press stories or edit other reporter’s pieces. Luckily though, both of my bosses were tremendously supportive of my creative endeavors.
My favorite days were the ones I was driving around town chasing a lead and interviewing people. My editor and producer let me chose my own stories. I would come in and pitch several ideas, then go out into the field to take pictures and interview. Afterwards, depending on the length of the story, spend hours in the newsroom writing up piece. The web software we use is known as CMS (collaborative management systems), and it is reasonably easy to edit, upload and publish on—from home or at the office, something I took advantage of.
Occasionally, I transcribed video from other reporter’s interviews. I entered them into the CMS system where the reporters can quickly type a story and pull copied quotes for the 6 o’clock news. Some days, if I did not bring my own projects, I had nothing to do. Other days I would be kept at the station until 10 at night. On the whole though, I worked around 15 hours a week, not all on location. The internship requires a self-starter personality and self discipline, especially the free lance writing part. It challenged me creatively, and held my interest, things never stopped changing. I was in charge of my own work, and more importantly, creating.
Spring 2009 Site Review
The media industry is an exciting industry. The standard 9-5 cubicle job does not exist. But don’t be fooled, a television news is not exactly akin to Ron Burgundy’s life in Anchorman.
I had two very different shifts this semester at KXAN Austin News. Every Monday, I would report to the station at 3 o’clock in the morning and stay until 11 a.m. On Fridays, I worked from 10am- 6pm. We were required to work at least two 8 hour shifts during the week and I chose these exact opposite shifts in order to see how contrasting the times really are. As a viewer, you see fairly the same content with the 5 am and 6am shows in comparison to the noon show. Even the anchors and Shawn Rutherford, the weatherman, stay in the same positions in the studio as they do during the early daybreak broadcast. However, it’s the change that is not necessary shown on the television that I am interested in. Speaking from a hopeful on-camera reporter, I strongly encourage any aspiring media junkie to investigate as much as you can if given the opportunity. A television station pretty much operates 24/7; use it to your advantage.
No matter the shift, I come into the news room prepared to do whatever I can do. On my first Friday of work, within a few minutes of walking in and looking around, I was thrown two AP stories to edit for broadcast. I hadn’t a clue where to find these stories on the computer, much less which computer to approach. Just figure it out and follow through.
Depending on what aspect of television you want to work with is how your day at the news station will pan out. If you are more of a behind the camera person who enjoys being in control of the final outcome, producing is something to look into. If you aren’t afraid to ask questions and communicate stories about the everyday issues concerning your city or country while in front of a camera, than reporting might be for you. Web junkie? Consider working with the web desk. The same goes for photographers, editors, and the assignment desk people. In every which case, the station has people who are working a potential, future job of yours. It’s a matter of finding what your interests are, shadowing the professionals and producing your product.
The beauty of an unpaid internship is the liberty that you have to take what you want out of it. The pressure of slacking off in front of your boss is not there. It is the pressure of wasting your own precious time in an invaluable position.
A final note: don’t expect endless hot coffee at all times. If you want it, make it. It runs out pretty quickly.