Saturday, October 04, 2008

The month that was

I rushed to my Reporting I professor’s Cooper Square office before going to work last Wednesday morning. I was worried. One of my classmates had already begun interning at The Daily News, another had begun interning as a fact checker at The New York Times, and I thought I was falling behind. I hadn’t begun interning anywhere yet. I had only gotten my first clip (journalese for “published article”) the day before.

“Don’t worry,” the professor reassured me. “You’re doing better than most. If you weren’t, trust me, I’d tell you.”

Then she filled me in a bit more. The girl interning at the Daily News came into the program with years of writing experience. Fact checking doesn’t count for shit. If I wanted an internship, she would get me one, it was just a question of whether I was ready.

But I’m not ready yet. Internships are important. But it’s also important to do well at them, and that’s what I’m preparing for right now.

I have a story due for class every week. Often times we have to write a story during class as well. In the last month I’ve written about the reaction of female Hillary supporters to Sara Palin, what it’s like working by ground zero, Harlem’s African American Day Parade, A NJ hair salon owner who invested his retirement money in Fannie Mae last spring, Muslims breaking the Ramadan fast, and a former Chilean President’s visit to NYU(my first clip).

My professor has given me great feedback. She has no time for the, “it’s not bad, here’s what I might change,” bullshit. She gets straight to the point and has edited some of my stories to pieces. But I’m grateful for her attitude because I really see my writing improving.

Once my stories get good enough- probably within the next few weeks- I'll have plenty of opportunities to get more clips.  Stories for class will be published on Pavement Pieces, a multimedia website run by the professor. The professor has also arranged for us to spend election day in real newspaper newsrooms, I'll be at the Star-Ledger, where we'll file (at least) two election stories. One story is to be around 1,000 words, the other about 650. November 4 should be intense.  At the end of the semester the class will also do a big multimedia project on Aids.

That's right, I’ll be learning multimedia skills this year. I’m real excited about that. You only get out of school what you put into it, and I’m trying to squeeze NYU dry.

Last month I read The Forever War, Dexter Filkins’ new book about his experience covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book is a fast read, it’s more a memoir of his experiences covering the war than a book like Fiasco, which was straight up reporting.

What’s in the News?
  • A $700 Billion bailout was given to Wall Street by the US government. The bailout bill had initially been rejected by congress, but was passed on its second go round after minor changes. It’s unclear whether the $700 billion will be able to restore the proverbial floodgates. What’s the difference between a recession and a depression?
  • Tzipi Livni is about to become Prime Minister of Israel. The outgoing premier, Ehud Olmert, is stepping down because of a corruption indictment.
  • Obama is ahead in the polls.

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