Newspaper business harder than it seems
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Newspaper business harder than it seems

Pros give what they look for in interns

By Justin Chapman | Contributor

Junior Justin Chapman stands outside the University Press building on campus.

Running stories in the newspaper business can be summed up in one word: repetition.

Whether a writer is experienced or a beginner, Russ Pulliam, an opinions columnist at the IndyStar, said putting in reps at writing news stories is specifically important. Learning about what to do while reporting is good; however, doing it is great.

“I would say the biggest one (piece of advice) would be write as many news stories, straight news stories, as you can,” Pulliam said.

Finding stories and making them sound interesting to the public is the job of a reporter, according to Pulliam. Some things will not seem interesting to most people, but journalists need to have an eye for this.

Once again, this takes training and repetition to turn everyday life situations into attractive stories.

Make no mistake; reporting is a grind. Putting in the effort is not easy and at times can be draining.

“I always say the same advice I give to myself: write, and write, and write some more, and report, report, report some more,” said David Jesse, a higher education reporter at the Detroit Free Press. “This thing we do is such a repetition type of thing. You get better the more you do it.”

Jesse said many people do not want to put in the time to get better. However it is necessary.

Jesse also said going above and beyond in reporting will create more detailed stories. Going to an event instead of calling someone who is involved in the event will give the reporter more aspects to the story.

Mickey Ciacko, an editor at The Grand Rapids Press, said knowing what questions to ask is essential. Additionally, asking many questions will be helpful.  At times, new reporters will not want to look dumb by asking too many questions. Yet, the more they ask the more they know.

Pulliam said going up to someone and asking, “‘I don’t know what’s happening here, could you help me write this story?’ is not wrong and will help the story be more interesting. Just being humble enough to let people know you don’t know much.”

Ciacko said doing research before going to an event will give a reporter confidence and more willing to ask questions.

Everyone wants to tell their story to someone; however, they want to tell it someone they can trust and know will get it right.

Let people know why this story is being done. A reporter’s responsibility is to serve their public.

Getting to have this experience is the part that matters however.

For Jesse, it does not matter too much to him where the reps are being put in.

“I don’t care where you’re getting the reps in as long as you’re getting the reps in,” Jesse said.

For most, the first step would be writing for a high school or college newspaper. Taylor University’s The Echo provides great experience for young journalists and can get them published. So, if a school provides access to writing for a newspaper, get involved.

The next step would be to write for an actual newspaper through an internship or freelancing. This will bring real world experience and expedite growth.

While writing for a school newspaper is great, writing for a newspaper in an internship is more valuable, according to Pulliam.

Take this situation Pulliam provided as an example. If Pulliam had to decide whether to hire a Taylor student who worked for The Echo for one year as the editor-in-chief or another Taylor student who wrote 40 articles for the Marion Chronicle-Tribune for one year, Pulliam would choose the latter.

Yet, gaining experience at a school newspaper is still a good first step. Internships will come easier once older journalists can see the work being put out on a school newspaper.

Stepping from one internship to the next and freelancing for other newspapers in the meantime will slowly build a strong resume worth looking at.

Gain experience in other areas of journalism to strengthen the resume as well. If reporting is someone’s main skill, try taking some photos. If designing is someone’s preferred line of work, go out and report some. Take advantage of doing things outside of the normal.

In this day and age, newspapers are understaffed due to the lack of money, making people who hold multiple skills very useful.

Once again, it will be a grind. However, newspapers all around offer internships.

Get connected, do not be shy and hold the confidence of an experienced reporter, even if the experience is not there.

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