I can’t believe my time at NBC News this summer is almost over. Over the past weeks, I have learned more about this business than would have been possible from a textbook or class lecture. By taking advantage of all NBC and Washington, DC has to offer, I’ve had a chance to see history unfolding and meet a few of my heroes along the way.
I started this internship with the goal of learning the skills necessary to become an investigative journalist – researching, digging, writing, looking at information from new angles, and ultimately producing a piece. Those expectations have definitely been met. I have also had the opportunity to learn about additional aspects of the overall news and broadcasting environment; not only have I achieved my initial goals but I have gotten the inside view of some of the ways a news story is developed. What makes a topic meaningful and what is its impact? I now understand that there is a tremendous amount of thought and diligence that moves a story from idea to completion.
My main tasks include researching for spots produced by the investigative group based in D.C., as well as, looking into possible leads for future investigations. On any given day, I may be locating contact information for possible interview subjects, and speaking with them to hear their stories, sifting through government and court documents, identifying voting records, searching historical newspaper archives, and exploring other news entities and blogs to see what the next story could be. I incorporate all the different methods of navigating Google and databases like Lexis Nexis, Factiva, Proquest, Pacer, etc., that I’ve learned, and now look at them with an investigative mindset.
I’ve also been able to experience the commercial television broadcast atmosphere. This has exposed me to the many different aspects of what goes on in network news. I’ve had a chance to listen in on discussions about which spots will appear on Nightly News through the daily conference call between the Washington, New York, and all the other bureaus, and seen changes in the rundown as news breaks over the course of the day. I’ve sat in the control room as Nightly aired, which provided an opportunity to observe all the different aspects that go into a smooth broadcast. Seeing which spots appear on Nightly has honed my news judgment about what stories are important to share, along with the public wants and needs to hear.
Aside from experiencing the production side of Nightly News, I have also seen some MSNBC entities working, which has shown me a different side of news broadcasting. I was able to sit in on Chris Matthews’ prep for his show, and was in the studio with Rachel Maddow when she visited D.C. I went to the Capitol with an NBC Politics reporter, and was in the press gallery to watch voting when a particular piece of legislation I had been researching all summer was finally presented on the Senate floor.
I’ve also had the opportunity to attend several events where I was able to see and hear from some of the most important figures in American politics, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, and, also most importantly, Ben Affleck!
In the downtime between assisting the investigative team and attending events in D.C., I’ve also been working on my own piece with another intern to be posted on NBCNews.com. We wrote our own script and are using footage my partner shot from her trip to Israel, we are going to cut the piece ourselves. This opportunity is an incredible chance to use what I have learned to produce and publish my own piece.
Being in Washington, D.C. during this election season has also given me the opportunity to be part of the excitement that builds in the months preceding a presidential election. I was outside the Supreme Court building when the health care decision was announced. It was exciting to be there during the historic moment, surrounded by people who were so passionate about the issue, and seeing the reactions and reporting styles of all different media entities absorbing the news.
Another significant moment for me was hearing Bob Woodward speak at the Newsuem during the week of the 40th anniversary of Watergate. As an aspiring investigative journalist, the development of the Watergate story has been an inspiration. Hearing Mr. Woodward speak, and even getting to shake his hand, was an incredible experience. It just added spark to my interest in the field that, as Mr. Woodward said, provides the “first rough draft of history.”
I’m proud of this laundry list of what are just some of my recent experiences, mostly because I took initiative and made them happen myself. I did not wait around for people to give me work to do, or ideas for events to attend, but actively looked for these opportunities. I wanted to learn from my internship and feel secure that I have. By asking questions and absorbing everything I could from NBC’s experienced and knowledgeable professionals, I obtained skills that will be help me succeed in my future academic and professional goals.
– Abigail Kagan ’13