The week started with the realisation (not uncommon with Mitch’s) that a week is far too short to settle in to an internship. The time frame is simply too narrow to properly familiarise yourself with the publication’s style, etiquette and methodology.
After the first week, which was ensconced firmly in naivety and awkwardness, I managed to significantly minimise my anxiety and instead focussed myself on establishing a confident, tenacious and ambitious presence in the newsroom
Although over the past two weeks I have made sure to suspend a good impression by continually volunteering to do the vox pops, the convention being that it is loathed by everyone else.
Initially slow to kick off, Monday was spent researching a large piece on the catatonically exciting subject of wedding trends, which as Jennifer said, gave me my first opportunity of researching a story I wouldn’t particularly want to do. I researched the most popular dresses and ceremonies and feigned interest when sources told me that the veils were now undergoing a revival and are “a gorgeous option” for brides.
I got extremely lucky though when a story idea practically fell in my lap. A lady from a local animal welfare organisation arrived at the office to talk to someone about their ongoing efforts to build a refuge for neglected animals, to which I promptly hurried out to interview. After some notes and quick questions, I’d meshed together a rudimentary idea for a story and what angle I’d use.
The following day I pitched it at the news conference, telling them about her ‘deal’ and making reference to the fact that Mackay has no animal shelter other than the regional pound. Jen and Mark made note of it and hinted that it was a possible page one story so I was left to research it a bit more. The rest of the day consisted of more research on the animal refuge and wedding trend stories.
Nearing the end of my second internship, I considered myself lucky not have been abused or harassed by belligerent sources, least of all by someone who’s anger was spurred by the content in a story.
Needless to say when this actually happened, it left me feeling slightly disoriented and although I’d always pictured myself showing conviction and integrity, I almost felt as if I should be prostrate before the phone I was talking to him from. A sad proposition, but I did manage to hold my own and stand up for what I’d written.
Today definately had a lot of fight in it.
Finally managing to complete my ‘wedding trend’ piece, Melissa took me for a trip to council and when I say ‘trip’, you should translate that to a slight walk of 50 meters or so. In a rare case of occupational convenience, the council chambers are located parallel to the offices of the Daily Mercury which is more than comforting when certain details are needed on the hour of deadline.
A huge departure from the format of the Brisbane City Council, the Mackay Regional council consists of about a dozen men and women sitting around a large board room table – no division no clear definition of partisanship.
Starting off with a prayer the councillors glide through the agenda, asking questions along the way rather than designating a specific time slot for them.
Melissa clarified afterwards that there were respective political allegiances.
“They just don’t like to make a big deal about it.”
Opportunity for more journalistic experience entered the fray today when the newsroom was made aware this morning that the Morcombes would be in Mackay to market the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, and to advocate child safety and awareness to kids and parents.
I went along with Tom (one of the main journo’s who’ve helped me out the past couple of weeks – a comrade and a genuine ‘bro’) to St Francis Xavier catholic primary school where other schools had gathered to hear of Mr and Mrs Morcombes’ widely recognised plight.
The Morcombes were playing the fashionably late card, so I ended up chatting to reporters from the ABC and from channel seven and nine’s regional divisions Prime and Win.
After the presentation had finished and once I’d interviewed a few kids for the vox pop I walked outside for the press conference that was just getting underway.
Anita, a young channel seven reporter (and Tom’s partner) who I’d met numerous times the past two weeks told me that I should get up close so I could hear, and reminded me to “ask questions whenever you can”.
I didn’t think I had the chutzpah for that, standing next to Mackay’s media stalwarts. Even so, I knew I’d deeply regret it if I didn’t make the most out of this opportunity.
As soon as the press conference had finished, I lathered up in faux self-confidence and promptly introduced myself to Bruce Morcombe which I’m glad I ended up doing.
Bruce was lovely. A man of extraordinary composure and articulacy, we spoke for a short while on the campaign and what was planned next. Speaking as candidly as we did with each other, I’m quite proud of the fact that I managed to quote such a high profile figure.
I have to say (and not simply because the end of a story should consist of a thematic observation), but as I approach the tail end of my internship I have realised that without a doubt, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience I’ve had here.
Far from disillusioning me with the prospect of what this occupation has to offer, it’s framed my preconceptions and adjusted my expectations in a realistic way.
Like you guys, I hope this internship has vindicated your choice in journalism as a career as much as it has mine.