Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Observations of an Editorial Intern: Here's to Punchy Ledes (& Other Farewell Stories)

#DailyWings: "We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless." 
-Vladimir Nabokov

This post is a part of my blog series, "Observations of an Editorial Intern" (as inspired by the CAFME Summer Intern Diaries). This series focuses on my experiences of interning as a journalism student for a news publication. Any viewpoints expressed on my blog are not reflective of the publication I work for. 

This semester, I completed an editorial internship at The WEEKLY, the town newspaper published by Chapel Hill Magazine.
Last Monday, I wrapped up my last few assignments for The WEEKLY and concluded the spring editorial internship. Walking out of that office for my last time this semester was bittersweet, as the end of most valuable experiences  ones that are both challenging and rewarding  tend to be. 

I like to think of the past — in this case, the "past" few months — as one huge timeline. Placing a finger at any point on the timeline, I remember where I was in the internship process at that point and how much there was still ahead of me. 

In January, I didn't know what were the important questions to ask in an interview. I didn't realize repeating my phone number twice in a voice message might increase my chances of getting a call back from the source. I didn't know "like" was better than "such as." 

I wrote my first newspaper article on a local poetry workshop; two weeks later, I covered Ackland Art Museum's "More Love" exhibit (my favorite assignment) and thought, hey, I could get used to this

Toward the end of February, the paper switched editors and I was scrambling to keep up with three stories a week (plus schoolwork). Somewhere along the way, I gained basic knowledge of property taxes, gentrification and "brain drain." 

By mid-MarchI was learning how to write short, punchy lines for my ledes (still learning this, y'all) and how to deviate from the inverted pyramid without losing the "why" of a story.

I led our new "Student of the Week" feature for most of April, and discovered there's a story in every child that reminds us all to remain curious and passionate about everyday life. 
I also wrote a personal tribute to my dear friend Laura Rozo, who died about three weeks ago after being diagnosed with cancer in 2011. (You can find my second tribute for Laura in The Daily Tar Heel.)

As an editorial intern for The WEEKLY, I've gained experiences that I wouldn't have gotten anywhere else. That's how it is for any internship you do. Sure, technically you could intern at any publication and then leave with clips, a mastery of AP Style and maybe even a recommendation letter. But where you intern matters; after all, you're there for a whole semester. 

Starting out at any internship can be kind of nerve-wrecking, especially if it's your first one. But after a few months, you get to know the people  not just by their hair color or office location, but by their first and last names, department and Twitter handle. Soon, you become attached to the publication and its unique style. You learn how to use the kitchen microwave properly. You read the publication from cover to cover not because there are articles with your byline (though that's a plus), but because you're genuinely proud of the content that everyone in the office has worked hard to produce together. 

This summer will be different from all my other summers in between college years. I won't be going back to China like usual (which means zero media censorship and more blogging, hooray!). I will be interning at a consulting firm in Cary, N.C., and I couldn't be more excited to begin this new journey. Still, I'm going to miss journalism. I'm going to miss writing furiously against a deadline and I'm going to miss The WEEKLY. Good thing is, I'll be returning in the fall. In the meantime, I'll be picking up a copy of each new issue on Thursdays at Franklin Street. You should, too. 


Wendy Lu

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2 comments:

The Golden Eagle said...

It sounds like it was a really amazing experience! And a useful one, too.

mr&mrs talklovealways said...

I wish you all the best in your endeavours. Reading also boosts good writing. All the best.

Sincerely,

Mr. Talklovealways

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