I was most comfortable when I was assigned to writing web posts. They were always a nice, familiar task for me in the mornings. Some audio segments were harder to transcribe because they contained a lot of hard facts and I couldn’t decide whether to paraphrase whoever was speaking or just allow it to be a quote. Other audio segments, like show IDs, were easy to transcribe because they were often one to two minutes. Show segments were also more difficult because they often ranged between four and six minutes (unless an extended version was made for the web, which then could range between six and eight minutes).
I was most uncomfortable when I was assigned to writing a lead, introduction, and questions for show interviews/segments I produced that the show host, David Brown, would conduct. I always felt like I was terrible at coming up with interesting, audience-grabbing questions. Sometimes my supervisor Laura Rice or even David himself would edit the lead/introduction/questions a few minutes before the interview. Sometimes they wouldn’t change a thing – and David would ask every question I wrote or say my introduction word for word. I felt like I got better with time, but I would still get a little anxious every time I was given a story to produce.
The fieldwork opened my eyes to how fast paced the real news world is. I had always had a small idea of how short the news cycle is – 24 hours – but it became a lot more real when I was actually watching it play out in the KUT newsroom. During the daily pitch meeting, the show staff would focus on what stories to have the following day. Most of the time they would never fill out the “Day After Tomorrow” section of the whiteboard. Sometimes the stories I pitched one day would get old within a few hours. Sometimes I would pitch a story and nothing further would come out of the initial idea. If I looked into a possible story idea and couldn’t find any more information on it by the following day, the team would move on and see what other news they could find.
An ethical dilemma I grappled with was when I was putting together my reported story. I wanted to make sure I had all of my reporting right; I didn’t want to leave out crucial information. During my 30-minute interview with Candace Stark, I had to sort through all of the informational things she said and it made it very hard to choose a few cuts to put in the final story. She had a lot of great personal stories to share – but they ended up not being relevant to my final story. Sometimes she would finish a story and then share a great quote, but it didn’t make sense to use the quote without the story. I felt like it would have been wrong to include her quote with a different narration to go with it – and not the story she told.
If I had to do it over in JMC, I would work harder to not be so afraid when trying to schedule interviews or to write interview questions or an introduction for the story. There were some days where I felt like I let my fear of asking dumb questions get in the way of getting the best story I could.
I functioned at or above expectations because I already had experience interviewing and editing audio through my jobs at The Optimist or at KACU. Additionally, I have had a passion for storytelling since I was in high school. So being able to share my ideas and have help bringing them to life was a fantastic experience. My supervisor, Laura, said in our phone interview that I had better chops than 99 percent of her other interns. They were super excited to have me on their team that summer – and it really showed. Since I had so much prior experience, they knew they didn’t have to babysit me as much as the other interns. At some points, I was the one teaching other interns how to use Adobe Audition, or how to use the recording studio!
I would advise new interns to get as much hands-on experience as they can while they are a JMC student. Get into ACUTV, get into The Optimist or KACU. These resources are here for you. Don’t take them for granted. Most importantly, treat them like they are real-world professional jobs. They pretty much are already. The hosts at KUT are real, functioning adults. The hosts at KACU are students – which is amazing. I could apply for a job to be a host at KUT in Austin and do it because I already gained that experience at KACU. They wouldn’t really have to teach me anything.