For the past two weeks I have been interning for the New York Daily News.
This is my experience of the US media.
The first thing that strikes me is the attitude towards the intern is vastly different. My experience of playing intern in London resulted in days stuck in the office, left to my own devices, made to feel like an irritant (with some exceptions). Occasionally I would be let out, but usually under the strict supervision of a staff reporter.
In the US I found myself out “on the beat” every single day, on my own. And while some stories would seem pointless (Snapple were giving away free pizza) others really were the big story of the day, whether this was visiting Swine Flu-infected areas speaking to concerned businesses, residents and school children, to trying to grab a chat with Mayor Bloomberg, and interviewing the speaker of the state assembly on the subway fare increases about to be introduced, mixed in with some interviewing of relatives of the recently deceased.
I would get the quotes for the story and phone them into the staff writer who wrote the copy.
Everyday I was thrown in at the deep end and asked to stay afloat and beat the competition – the New York Post.
What this taught me was how to approach people you just HAVE to get the quote/story from, as well as the politics of the banter with your competition who you may be hanging around with for hours on end. We were all friends, until we weren’t. We would help each other out, without giving too much away. Joke with each other, but want to beat them, yet respecting them when you are beaten.
The differences in the US seem to be that although that they have a much larger workforce and pool of reporters than UK papers, they could put them to much better use than they do (especially as they’re not paying them – I was intern 11, which I assume means there were 10 before me somewhere!)
For example, their most recent “investigation” was seeing whether priority mail is actually delivered faster than standard 1st class – that was the splash last week.
If they got, say, 2 interns spending a good 2 weeks investigating something or someone they could pull off some major scoops.
Oh, and if you’ve got a press release they will generally always cover the event – especially if food is involved.
As one experienced journalist who has worked on both sides of the pond told me:
“you’ve had an interesting insight into the stuffiness of the US media, though
also perhaps their thoroughness.
I don’t envy the first, but I do the second”