Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Interning for Vermont Edition

UVM journalism student and Vermont Edition intern Jason Bushey is wrapping up his work at Vermont Public Radio, and he shared his thoughts about working at VPR:

On my first day as an intern at VPR, I came in expecting to do stereotypical “intern work”– making photocopies, answering phones, you know, the dirty stuff. However, almost right away I came to realize that this would not be the case when Vermont Edition host, Jane Lindholm, asked me if I wanted some coffee. (My response: “Isn’t that supposed to be my job?”) Instead, I was given real work in the office and out in the field, and I got to have an impact on some of the broadcasts. Here are a few projects I worked on over the past few months with Vermont Edition.

Recording “man on the street” audio:
Like most first-timers, I was a bit nervous to go up to random strangers on the street and ask them for their opinions on issues. However, once I got my first rejection, I realized that this would be the worst-case scenario – a simple “no.” Soon my nerves subsided and I felt comfortable talking with all kinds of people (including one man outside of City Hall in Burlington who had just left a child support hearing). With some practice, I got some pretty good tape of everyday people whose voices were heard on the air by listeners.

One crucial aspect of my interning experience was background research on future topics for the program. When I was given a topic to research, I worked to include as many sides of the story that I could find. This practice is definitely helpful for an aspiring journalist like me because it got me to dig deeper and farther on particular subjects that I may have not have thought to look at.

Voicing stories:
Honestly, when I first got the internship at VPR, I didn’t even dream of getting on the radio (and yet, anytime I told someone I interned at VPR, their first response usually was, “no way, you’re on the radio?!”). But VPR’s Newscast Editor, Ross Sneyd, heard the audio I collected for a debate over driving while talking on cell phones, and he asked me to write a newscast story and voice it for air. My greatest fear about getting on the radio was, “will I sound smart enough to be on VPR?” Ross, Jane and Production Engineer Chris Albertine gave me great advice on delivery and how to connect with a radio audience, and with their help I was able to get a brief spot on the air. Now, when someone assumes I was on the radio because I interned at VPR, I can at least answer, “well, not really. But there was this one time…"

Learning how to produce a radio show:
Finally, one of the most valuable experiences I took away from my internship at VPR was learning the day-to-day process of putting together a daily radio program. I had never worked in radio before my time at VPR, but I was an editor at UVM’s student newspaper. What I learned is that the two processes – putting together a radio show and creating a newspaper section – have something in common: both require several people working together in close orchestration to produce a high-quality result. The demands of a daily show require focus both in preparation and while Vermont Edition is on the air. I got to see how the process develops from an idea to a live broadcast by producing my own show (with, of course, the help of Vermont Edition’s producers) on magnet schools. Everything from research to booking guests to rescheduling guests when something comes up is required of producers, and my experience at VPR gave me really good behind-the-scenes insight into how challenging (and fulfilling) the job of a producer can be.

So, while I am trying to be a journalist and am always looking to be objective on a particular subject, I really have nothing but good things to say about working as an intern at VPR. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in journalism, so long as they’re ready to do real journalistic work, as opposed to making copies and coffee – I’m really glad I got to avoid that.

If you're interested in interning for Vermont Edition? Visit our website to learn how to apply.

UPDATE: Click here to listen to "Many drivers say they'd welcome a cell phone ban", by Jason Bushey, April 13, 2009.

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