I spent nights at movie premiers and advanced screenings. I met the hunky Shemar Moore, spoke to a former heroin addict turned celebrity tattoo artist and followed a medieval knight. This summer brought many adventures – all in the name of business journalism.
For about two months, I covered the business of entertainment as part of an internship for the Los Angeles Times. While I never quite acclimated to the glitz and glam that came with the beat, the experience provided me with much needed optimism for my journalism future.
As a young journalist, it’s easy to buy into the hype that the craft is dead. But my summer job at the Los Angeles Times convinced me this statement is a fallacy.
This internship was very different from my stint at the New Orleans Times-Picayune last summer. Several employees were laid off from the Picayune because the paper was switching to a three-day a week printing schedule. I was the last money intern at the paper. Thankfully, this time I did not see another newsroom decimated.
The Los Angeles Times provided me a look inside a more intact newsroom. I took the opportunity to observe and learn in a different environment.
The reporters impressed and inspired me. I sat by some of the best in the business and overheard their interviews. They were fierce. They pushed and pulled. They asked the hard questions. The final result were stories I could only dream of reporting and writing.
Observing their skills made me realize how much I still had to learn and the different ways I needed to grow.
The editors at the Los Angles Times were just as talented. They had overwhelming knowledge from years of experience, which was both humbling and inspiring. I watched them too, how they led and fixed copy. My editors carefully answered my questions and detailed their edits. They provided explanations for changed elements in my stories, which gave me the chance to learn.
My editors also gave me freedom to explore my own interests and chase stories.
Through my own curiosity, I carved out a niche. I covered film schools and how they were preparing students to access the entertainment industry. This was a beat I created. It made me wonder: Would other papers give an intern such freedom to develop her own specialty?
My editors believed in my stories and trusted my instincts. They pushed me to augment my writing, encouraging me to use a larger vocabulary and write narrative details. The support was motivating. From them, I learned that there is a place for creative journalists with a passion for long-form journalism and features.
The Los Angeles Times, like other newspapers, is working to reinvent itself. The paper is implementing varying forms of media and presenting stories in new ways. The journalists I worked with this summer seem to recognize the need for change instead of fighting against it.
Before I started my internship, I was doubtful about my skills and future in the industry. I heard negative stories about the industry from others students trying to make it in journalism. The experiences of so many aspiring journalists searching for jobs scared me.
I flirted with the idea of giving up. Maybe there wasn’t a place for the reporting I wanted to do, or a home for young journalists. Why force yourself into an industry that doesn’t want you or your work?
But my view shifted this summer after I pitched a lengthy feature on a knight from Medieval Times. I spent days shadowing the employee and weeks writing and re-writing the story. In the end, it was a centerpiece story for the Calendar section. My editors provided the freedom to chronicle an in-depth piece. Fellow reporters encouraged me to pursue the idea. This supportive environment had a profound impact. It changed my mind about my future. I decided I could survive in this world.
The Los Angeles Times embraces young reporters. The paper boasts a robust internship program and also its Metpros assignments, a special and competitive program that gives beginning journalists a chance to report for almost every section the paper. The paper’s leadership, I believe, sets out to attract young talent because they recognizes that we are the key to the future of the industry.
The Los Angeles Times grabs young talent and cultivates promise. They want us. It’s a beautiful thing to behold. I suspect many other news organizations do too.
My view was clouded before. Now I’m confident there is a home for me in the media industry.
I have one year left at Arizona State University and it’s overwhelming to look back at all I’ve accomplished. In addition to the Los Angles Times, I’ve interned with the Phoenix Business Journal, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and twice with The Arizona Republic.
I’ve gained lots of professional experience so far, but yes, there is a part of me is starting to panic. I need to land a job after graduation.
I am hopeful that more news organizations will see the value in hiring young people like myself. The challenge for aspiring journalists is to keep hope alive. I ‘ll continue to struggle with the insecurities and risks that come with this industry, but I now know I want to keep my optimism. And maybe, just maybe, someone will give me a shot and I’ll land that dream job.