Seminar 2 (Posts 1 + 2)

1. Evaluation

 

This internship has been invaluable not just as a student, but also as a future communications professional. I am extremely grateful to both my university supervisor and host employer for making the experience possible.

 

I had a performance review with the Chief of Staff on the last day of my internship, reflecting on my time with the organisation. We discussed both my strengths and weaknesses, which I will evaluate in more detail below in the ‘personal development’ section.

 

I discovered that although journalism is primarily independent work, there is a great deal of teamwork involved as well. I learnt how to work with photographers, editorial staff, and I.T professionals. This team helped to present my stories in the most effective way, through photographs, website layout and selection of topics.

 

The newsroom meetings in both the morning and afternoon are a key communication practice used by the organisation to check schedules and the progress of stories. They are a useful mechanism to control the inner workings of the newsroom, including the all important deadlines!

 

I believe that I was well equipped to contribute to the organisation, and I was adequately prepared to face all challenges. The one area where I felt I lacked competency was collaborating statistics. During my degree I have learnt data journalism in terms of how websites are created. However, knowing which websites to source data from, and how best to collaborate findings is something that I felt less confident with, and more knowledge in this area would have been valuable.

 

The ‘inverted pyramid’ was a piece of theory that I noticed repeated daily in the newsroom. Each journalist aims to structure their stories around the theory placing the most important news points first. Although I didn’t always perfect my structure, understanding the concept helped me to improve it more rapidly.

 

After completing my internship, my ideas of professionalism have not changed significantly in terms of appropriate conduct and practices.  For two weeks I felt every part a professional, and wherever my career path leads after university, I will always remember this learning experience fondly. It was a great experience to be part of such a dynamic team.

 

2. Personal Development 

 

PERSONAL STRENGTHS

– The ability to work under pressure is necessary in journalism, as there are always deadlines looming. I am proud of the fact that I managed to meet all deadlines during my internship. In total I had 14 pieces published, and was commended for having a high productivity level.

 

– Interview skills. One interviewee was surprised by a question I asked, stating that it was unusual and thought provoking. By listening to my interviewee and researching, I was able to add more depth to the story.

 

– Grammar and writing. Besides structural issues, I consistently produced a high standard of “clean copy” to the editor.

 

– Communication skills. Despite being quite nervous at the beginning of my internship, I overcame these feelings to work effectively with the newsroom team.

 

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

 

–  Trying to meet deadlines, I made an error with the facts on one of my articles, as I sourced it from an outdated web page. I quickly rectified the mistake and found the problem, however it taught me to be meticulous when researching. As it was past 5pm I was unable to verify the data, and in this situation it would have been better if ‘when it doubt, leave it out!’

 

– In terms of story structure, the Chief of Staff mentioned that I should practice developing this area before entering the workplace, suggesting a method of writing lists. This is a simple technique that will improve my story flow.

 

– Practicing writing leads. By the end of the two weeks, my ability to create the best and most punchy leads began to improve.  My introductions became sharper and more concise.

 

ETHICAL PRACTICE

– There was a situation with one of the stories that I wrote, where an interviewee called to request if a statement could be retracted. The interviewee noted that I had correctly quoted the statement and placed it in the right context. However, he politely asked if I would retract the statement from the story because he felt that it would cause him embarrassment. Because the quote wasn’t essential to my story, I decided that I would remove it. As the story was online only, it also meant I did not have to place an official correction in the newspaper. I questioned the Chief of Staff about how the organisation generally responds to requests like this. He said that if the quote did not add any value to the story, in most cases it would be removed, so I had done the right thing by respecting the interviewee’s wishes. If the quote had been essential to my story, this case study could have possibly turned out differently.

 

 

 

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Seminar 1: Involvement and Reflection.

Career Services discussion referring to applying for a job.

1.     “Knowing about the organisation before walking in.”

Having already commenced one week of my internship, this point seemed particularly significant, as I believe it provided me with an advantage in my interactions with work colleagues and a heightened understanding of my surroundings. Subscribing to the organisation’s newspaper since my first year of university provided me with some knowledge of the role of primary journalists and editors. However, being thorough and updating this information, including familiarising myself with the website sections, saved precious navigation time. As soon as I began my internship I could recognise the majority of journalists before they introduced themselves to me. This awareness helped me build up a relationship with them by understanding their specialised roles (e.g. sports/arts/general/business/other).

I undertook extra preparation by reading the latest business news about the company, and how it was fairing in the wider media industry. I was introduced to the overall economic environment by one of my supervisors in my OH&S course on day two. My previous research allowed me to ask informed questions relating to possible job cuts and company restructures. Being aware of the external environment enabled me to focus on the internal operational structure of which I was less familiar.

2. “Understanding which qualities you have that match the company’s expectations.”

This was something I did not consciously consider before commencing my internship, but I discovered along the way. As I am still learning my strengths and weaknesses in journalism, I began to understand the values both my employer and I shared. For instance I value creativity and freedom to produce my own ideas and storylines, and fortunately my employer only encouraged me to do this.

Personal Expectations

* Being able to observe how journalists work with editors and photographers behind the scenes. While I have no expectations of the type of work I will be assigned, my key desire is to gain an insight into the daily operations of a newsroom. For example I understand the company still does traditional newsroom meetings every morning and afternoon. I am looking forward to experiencing the nature of these meetings and how the editing staff resolves problems that arise.

* Advice on how to apply for a job in the competitive media industry after university. I would feel satisfied walking out of my internship feeling confident that I know how to improve my chances of obtaining work. For example what to include in a portfolio, potential interview questions, and skills my employer believes I could improve upon between finishing my last semester and applying for jobs.

Fears

* Not being able to keep up with the pace of a busy newsroom. Generally I expect shorter deadlines during my internship than those I have been given at university.

Long-term career aspirations

I aspire to work as a general news reporter in print journalism. My ideal job would be starting out by working in a rural area with a strong sense of community, where I could be responsible for covering a variety of issues. However I would also be happy to find work in related fields such as public relations.

Applying Academic Knowledge

Majoring in Public Relations, I understand the close connection between PR and journalism. One of my columns has involved finding key newsworthy information from press releases. As I have learnt to decipher press releases and communicate with PR professionals at university, I was able to do this efficiently.

Ethical Issues

* Translating quotes. I have been careful to make sure that when using quotes, I am not placing them out of context.

* Getting facts right. I made an error with one of my stories in regards to water storage capacity levels. One of the statistics on the website I examined was not inclusive of a particular NSW dam in the total, which skewed my reported results. I was alerted by one of my interviewees, and was able to source the correct information and place a correction, thereby rectifying my mistake quite rapidly. I was disappointed in myself for making such a simple mistake, but it was an invaluable lesson in data collection.

Professional issues:

* Building relationships: Knowing key points of media contact for certain stories. Also learning how to send photographers briefings, so they can take the best possible image to match my story angle.

* Phone and email etiquette: As a lot of my time is spent seeking interviews, I have learnt how to respond to phone and email messages both succinctly and politely. I’ve learnt that it is important to be firm and assertive when interviewing people, so they don’t try to promote their own product or service, a problem I have already frequently encountered.