So it has been a while (er…two weeks) since I’ve written here, and I confess that every time I have thought about blogging, usually when I want to relax and/or procrastinate, the prospect of catching up seems like too much work for the moment. Naturally, this creates a self-perpetuating cycle.
BUT NOW I AM FORCING MYSELF TO BLOG.
…where did I leave off?
On September 13, I started my internship at the Washington Post, working for the online sites On Leadership and Innovations. Before I arrived, I was afraid that, because I am working specifically with online sections, we would be sequestered off in a tiny, windowless room, perhaps even relegated to a forgotten floor. I couldn’t have been more wrong. We work in the main newsroom – the Washington Post newsroom – and my desk is right in the center of the action. But as we stepped off the elevator, the first thing that caught my eye was the round conference room with glass walls. Editors were sitting around the desk – the A1 meeting, Emi said. (A1? Not the steak sauce. No – in my world, that would be the front page of the newspaper).
I got to attend the A1 meeting two days later. True confession: I geeked out a little bit. At this daily 10 a.m. meeting, the different section editors pitch their best stories for play on the front page. It began with one editor offering a critique of the morning’s paper; he noted that he liked the story about new football uniforms, but he felt that the New York Times was able to give a very similar story better play by running a larger photograph. The other editors then got a chance to respond. This was interesting; it felt kind of like being back at The Falcon, offering critiques and “kudos” when work was done well. On this particular morning, they praised the Style section, and the editor seemed unable to contain her happiness. She just kept smiling. After that, each section gave a rundown of its top stories. The A1 editor noted what sounded most interesting. Then the meeting ended rather abruptly; Emi said there is always another 4 p.m. (or 5 p.m.) meeting to finalize the front page for the early edition. There are different editions of the paper printed for different markets, so what appears in one print run might not appear in the next, if, say, breaking news happened.
In the world of online journalism, the “early edition” doesn’t exist. While it is best to have new content posted by the time morning readers will be browsing, it is possible to publish at any time. One of my projects for Innovations, for example, will be to work on a daily feature called the “Afternoon Read,” which is a really brief blog post featuring an interesting site or video. We post it in the afternoon, right around that time when you’re wishing the workday would hurry up and end, right when you need that brief distraction. And we can do that because we’re online, not limited the same way a print story would be.
With two weeks of internship experience already logged, I guess I would say the most interesting part has been seeing my editors thinking big when it comes to ideas for their sections. They have teamed up this week and are in Silicon Valley, where they’re interviewing some of the biggest names in tech. While it means I am the orphaned/rogue intern at the moment, it was so rewarding to work with them and see their planning strategy, thinking outside the traditional interview-with-questions format, thinking about how they could utilize technology to do something exciting with their content. That is really new for me, because my experience is primarily in print journalism. Seeing the possibilities of interactive content is opening my eyes to the benefits of this online transition.
And now that this post has rambled on far too long, I’ll do a series of shorter posts about individual internship experiences…including the story of my first WashPost byline. More to come…