By Mary-Lyn Buckley
Reflecting back on my three years at Rider, I’ve definitely been lucky. My two most recent internship opportunities with WABC-TV and WNYW Fox 5 are two in particular that have attributed to my growth as a student journalist.
I knew I needed some television experience if I ever wanted to be considered for a job after graduation, so I applied to intern at Fox 5, along with 10 other television stations, in November. I heard back from two stations, and before I knew it, I was in Manhattan, New York awaiting my Fox 5 interview. To my surprise, I was offered the internship on the spot and eagerly accepted.
Fox 5 opened my eyes to general assignment reporting. It was fast-paced and wide-ranged. I shadowed reporters three days a week, and I watched as their assignments changed day to day. As a reporter, there is no given routine; every day is different. You could be covering a new bakery opening one minute and then be sent to an active fire the next. It’s all about where the news takes you. I learned how to cover the happiest of stories and the saddest.
The most challenging story I experienced was when the suspect behind Karina Vetrano’s murder, Chanel Lewis, was arraigned after his DNA was found under her fingernails. Seeing parents mourn over the death of their child isn’t easy, and when your job is to ask questions during their time of grief, it doesn’t get any easier. Being present on such a difficult story made me view the camera lens differently. You aren’t filming actors — this is not “fake news.” Our job is to film people’s real emotions that they are experiencing in their lives.
In my downtime, I practiced working in front of the camera. This meant battling all elements: rain, snow, thunderstorms, heat waves, camera malfunctions, nerves and even angry protesters. I was constantly encouraged to pitch ideas, and if the story was selected, it was up to me to set up the interviews and make it happen. I learned how to work under pressure, complete on-camera interviews, gather sound bites, learn stories inside and out and submit quality work under tight deadlines. There are times when reporters are sent out on a shoot and breaking news happens. A reporter could be live, and the viewers may think they’ve been at the scene for hours, but in reality, they may have only been there for a couple of minutes — it’s a true example of thinking on your feet.
WABC-TV, on the other hand, was completely different. The interview process to obtain the internship was more competitive than anything I’d ever experienced. There were group interviews with four applicants per group, one producer questioning us all and three spots to fill. On my last day at Fox 5, I received the call that I was offered a position to work alongside 7 On Your Side in the consumer investigative unit. This team generally gets involved when individuals reach out for help on an unresolved issue with a business. I got to see what it truly takes to tell a story from start to finish. Some stories could take months at a time to fully investigate, but we only had 14 weeks. We were investigative journalists, undercover and unexpectedly showing up at store fronts in search of consumer justice.
Investigating a fake job scam, in particular, stood out to me because it involved an average college student just trying to seek a part-time job to help put some extra change in her pocket. She fell victim to a fake job advertisement posted on her college’s website. It was shocking that even an academic institution could be tricked into posting the part-time employment swindle.
These two internships fulfilled my expectations by giving me real world experience that a textbook could never prepare me for. When it comes to reporting, the best practice is going out and doing it. I’ve learned you figure out what works and what doesn’t the more you go at it.
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone looking to gain an internship or job experience with a reputable company, it would be set the bar high and work towards achieving your goal. I’ll be focusing the next chapter of my life on completing senior year and making frequent appearances on Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia. If I learned anything, it’s that competition is tough in any industry, but necessary — it gives you something to live up to.
Published in the 09/06/17 edition.