My summer internship at the Reno Gazette-Journal begins tomorrow, and I won’t lie – I’m nervous. Though I wrote countless stories for the Nevada Sagebrush and the University’s Media Relations, this will be my first actual experience in a professional newsroom. The stakes are higher, the audience is much, much larger, the potential to fuck everything up is exponentially greater, and yet it’s an opportunity to do more meaningful and ‘important’ journalism. I am very aware that I’m not going to be immediately diving into breaking news topics and hardcore Woodward-and-Bernstein style journalism, but probably going to stuffy and mildly boring Reno-based events. But I’m okay with that for two reasons:
- Paying dues: If there is one lesson I learned pledging a fraternity, it’s that you have to pay your dues. Even though most organizations don’t have the kind of clear-cut boundaries between new and old members, being in a fraternity has clarified the divide. A new person in any organization (fraternal, journalistic or otherwise) will usually be stuck with the least appealing and crappiest jobs or tasks to complete. It’s not fair, it’s not fun, but it’s how organizations work. Accepting that role, and working around it, is a key to early success.
- Avoid discouragement and do work: If assigned a ‘boring’ story or event to cover, there’s no benefit to be gained by going through the motions of reporting and producing a C-quality story. My view is that average work, especially in a declining industry such as journalism, is a death sentence. For me, it makes no sense to limit the opportunities I’ve been given.
There are thousands of journalism students across the country competing for a dwindling number of already limited jobs, and the competition means only the very best will have secured some resemblance of regular employment. I plan to make the most of this internship because I want to capitalize on the opportunity to produce quality journalism to a larger audience than I’ve ever had.
Because it’s a full time internship, I most likely will have less frequent updates to this blog. I do not plan on completely abandoning this site, and instead want to focus on expanding the vision and topics I write about. Yes, specificity and building a niche is key, but I feel that I write best when I’m invested in a subject like a movie I enjoyed or a thought-provoking book series. Though these topics and ideas may not fit into my niche of Nevada journalism, I’m confident that they will be at worst entertaining and at best a nice change of pace from my usual writings.
The summer is here, and I’m nervous. But also excited.