I already knew WUSA9 was exactly where I needed to be before I stepped foot into the newsroom. I had been hearing such great stories all summer from one of my best friends and a previous WUSA9 intern, Marissa Parra. But, it was one passing moment that really confirmed this feeling I already had. Russ Ptacek, the investigative reporter at the station...and DC's "Anderson Cooper," (Don't hate me, Russ! Hehe.) said something that really stuck with me. He said the difference between WUSA9 and the other stations is that when everyone else is against trying something new, WUSA9 will take the first step to see if something works.
I knew this was a huge deal. I previously worked for a top music radio station in the DC area, and I remember when there was a new song out by an artist who wasn't Drake or Rihanna (since somehow all their music ends up on the radio,) the program director would wait for another station to play the song before we did. Doing something new in this business is taking a risk...every time. Everything comes down to ratings.
Back to Russ. So, when he said that, I knew I was in the right place. I am all for different and taking risks.
Manny Fantis, my supervisor, mentor, and basically the guy who has had my back ever since I publically announced my dream of becoming a news anchor gave me the run down of the newsroom and introduced me to all the amazing people who make WUSA9 what it is...awesome. Shout out to Manny for also giving me the chance to share my experience with the world using this blog!
I love the vibe of a newsroom. The constant search for knowledge and what is going on in the world. My favorite is during a news meeting talking about a local story and how we can give back to the community. One story we had discussed during my first news meeting was about a firefighter who had died. During his funeral his home was broken into and robbed. At the meeting we discussed ideas on how we could raise money for the deceased firefighter's wife. Those are the stories that bring communities together and make a reporter's job so incredibly rewarding.
My professor for broadcast class, Prof. Calogero is also the Editor-in-Chief of the station. How ironic? And my projects for his class merge with my work at the station. So, I can't wait to make the best of this experience and soak in all the knowledge and skill I can.
I think the key to success in any internship, job or class is to go in with an open mind. 100% open. Open to learning anything and everything. Open to opinion and disagreement. Open to questions and asking questions. Once you open your mind totally, it's amazing the opportunities and paths that come up. Absolutely amazing!
The people at WUSA9 are really what make this experience special, and yes, I am saying this after being there a couple days. But I'd like to think I have a good sense of people and my environment.
I love how Fred, our news director, himself tries to speak to me in Arabic! He even tells everyone around us that my name means light. I love when people embrace other cultures and work together doing so. I just love it! The little things are what stick with me and fuel my passion for telling stories.
This post is already getting too long, but I have to share the best part of my internship thus far. Something I never thought would happen! Getting on TV and telling NEWS! Oh, I love this story. I promise if you bear with me for this last story, my future posts will be shorter and more frequent than one really long one!
Ok, so! Debra Alfarone, a fabulous reporter, gave me two pieces of advice after the Friday news meeting. 1) Get out of the station as soon as possible and go tell a story. The goal of a reporter in a news meeting is to GET OUT and REPORT! ASAP! More times means more quality in a story. 2) As a female, always add a little color to your lips or they will look invisible on camera. Later during the day she bought me a perfect Mac lipstick for my first week. Love!
After a little bit of chaos and going back and forth between what story we were going to do, we decided to do an experiment based on a press release. We wanted to see if people in DC preferred tap or bottled water. The release said people preferred DC tap or couldn't tell the difference between the two. But we spend so much money on bottled! We had to find out for ourselves.
I love working under pressure and deadline. Thinking quick on my feet and getting creative. Within an hour, we made a water taste test sign, bought bottled water, cups, and put together a cute set up in DuPont Circle with a table, pashmina scarf, and labeled plastic cups for our passers-by to drink water from. It was all so fast and on the go, it was perfect. A little rushed, but perfect because I wanted to experience this.
Earlier in the newsroom when our first story failed, I remembered that no matter what, we WILL have a story by the end of the night, it's only a matter of time of figuring it out. No need to worry. It will always get done.
I had so much fun because I became PART of the reporting of the story as the "statistician" taking down results of the test. I was able to report on the statistics and Debra and I were a dynamic duo. It was a great night.
Back at the newsroom, James Hash, the incredible cameraman edited the piece together and we got it on air in time. After it aired my friends and family were texting me saying they saw me on the news and it was so exciting. I got to tell a story. A fun, quirky, quick story.
I can't wait to do this for a living. James Hash, the incredible cameraman I referred to above told me to quit from now...yes...you heard me...quit! He made great points of how becoming a female plumber catering to females would be a much better job. He tried convincing me all day. He's known to try and turn people away from this business. But I know it won't be easy...and I know it will definitely be worth it. I will do this James Hash! Just you wait!
Can't wait to share with you more adventures.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." -Thomas Edison