Heading into my summer internship at WCVB-Channel 5, I was hoping to gain insight into the everyday life at a TV Station. During my time at Channel 5, the learning experience surpassed my expectations of a traditional internship. I spent my summer in the sports department at WCVB, learning first-hand from reporter Bob Halloran and photographer Mike Cole.
Upon arriving for my first day, I was quickly told I had to leave for an assignment in Ayer, Massachusetts, some thirty miles away. I acclimated myself to the lifestyle of television news immediately, and soon became very familiar with how everything operates at WCVB following a conversation with the crew in the news van on the way. The assignment was at a charity obstacle course in the mud and Bob got to do a few obstacles for his story. I immediately began to learn from him as his casual style during interviews and standups was unlike any other I’ve seen from a professional sportscaster. Throughout the afternoon shoot, I helped the cameraman lug equipment from his car parked up the hill and down to the obstacle course while making sure everything was working. One particularly anxious moment was when Bob attempted to do a bear-crawl in the mud with his wireless microphone still attached. I saw it and stopped him before he went much further preventing any damage. On the way home, the three of us had a great conversation laying out what I would be doing throughout the summer and from then on, I felt like part of the news team.
Throughout the first two weeks, much of what I did on a daily basis was learn the routine and functions of an intern around the newsroom. Every morning, upon arrival, I immediately logged into AP ENPS and began searching the news wire to help organize the 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. newscast. On days where we had a story to do, we would leave the station around 10:30 a.m. and be gone until 2:30 p.m. Some days, I would report directly to the site and then head back to the studio afterwards. In May, during Patriots Mini Camp, it would be just me and the cameraman at practice so I would be thrown into the media scrum to interview players and the Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. One of the most memorable experiences was standing next to Coach Belichick with the microphone in hand and being able to ask him a question. This continued during NFL Training Camp in early August. This time, WCVB sent two cameramen to Gillette and I got to work directly with one. I had the pleasure of interviewing players like Jimmy Garoppolo and Rob Gronkowski. Along with honing my skills as a reporter, I also got to meet various members of the New England media throughout the summer, giving me opportunities to network.
In addition to events at Gillette Stadium, I also attended several Bruins’ and Celtics’ events throughout the summer. In late May, during one of my first nights at the station, I went with our cameraman Mike to the Boston Celtics training facility in Waltham for a draft lottery event. The media room was crowded with several reporters huddled around a TV anxiously watching the lottery. Following the program, we proceeded downstairs to the court where General Manager Danny Ainge addressed the media. I got to Periscope the event live on Twitter as a way to help with coverage of the event. In July, I helped cover another Celtics event, this time in West Roxbury at Kelly Olynyk’s youth basketball camp. I was able to interview the Celtics’ forward about his time traveling to the Hamptons with Tom Brady to help negotiate with Kevin Durant. Celtics events were a lot rarer in the summer given the offseason, but they always gave me an opportunity to learn firsthand.
As for covering the Boston Bruins, the only opportunity we got was during Rookie Camp in July. For two straight days, we drove up to Wilmington, Massachusetts to watch two sessions of practice and film press conferences with team executives along with open locker room sessions. I got to speak with former BU captain Matt Grzelcyk and Bruins goaltender Malcolm Subban, both in person. Throughout various events with the Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins, I got the chance to enter the media scrums with several players and coaches. While I might not have asked many questions, I learned a lot about how reporters phrase questions and go about interviewing athletes on touchy subjects. It was valuable to be able to see how reporters did their jobs routinely and I gained some experience and respect seeing this firsthand.
I have been able to use the knowledge I gained over the summer in both an academic and professional setting this school year. In my Sports Talk Radio class, we are tasked with formulating questions for live guests each week. I feel my questions have been significantly stronger this year than they would’ve been had I not been at my internship. Professionally, as a writer for the Boston Globe and on campus for WTBU Sports, I have interviewed several coaches and story subjects, each time finding myself asking more learned questions and feeling well-prepared and less intimidated.
Inside the newsroom, there were several new things I learned as well. First, and most valuable, was how to use AP ENPS. The program, which organized formats and scripts for newscasts, was essential to everyday life at the TV station. Along with checking wires for stories within the program, I was taught how to put in chyrons for reporters, create graphics, and write scripts for the talent. Putting in chyrons was the first thing I learned. During the early portion of the summer, I would help the night-time sports producer insert chyrons into stories on the 6:00, 7:00, and 11:00 news casts for them to use on air. The practice helped me understand the ins-and-outs of the ENPS program and I found it easier to use the program.
Making graphics for the three news casts was another one of my responsibilities. The sports producer and I brainstormed ideas for graphics and when we came up with finalized ones I went into ENPS and made them to use for our shows. The graphics were informative and required me to research and link together data that would fit nicely into the topic of the matching story. In addition to learning how to make them, I was taught how to spread them out in order to give viewers a sufficient combination of video, talent standup, and graphic information. It was a lesson not only in how to make the graphic look good, but also in where to place it in order to give it maximum effect on the viewer.
Finally, writing copy for the talent to read on the teleprompter was something I really wanted to improve on throughout the summer. At first, I would write fake scripts for stories that weren’t used but were critiqued by my supervisor. Eventually, I began to write actual scripts for one or two stories per show which were edited and fixed by my supervisor. By summer’s end, I was writing full show scripts only given final, small tweaks by the sports producer and talent. My supervisor, Bob Halloran, helped considerably by showing me tricks to making the scripts more conversational and better advancing the story. We would have conversations about ways to write copy and he would have me read his scripts compared to mine. As time passed, I began to use his advice and before long he was telling me that many my scripts was flawless. The more conversational style has not only given me a better awareness of how to write for television, but radio and print as well. In my Sports Talk Radio class this semester, my writing for my packages has been more conversational, informative and much easier listening. In my Columns and Editorials class, the same can be said for my articles. Though those are more long-form journalism, it still reflects the conversational tone that I learned over the summer.
Working closely with photographers, I learned how to structure TV packages as well. The sports photographer, Mike Cole, allowed me to sit in on his editing sessions each afternoon and I was given a run-down into the basics of constructing a package and watched as Mike sifted through several reels of footage to choose the right ones. He taught me how to combine the videos to make correct five-shot sequences. This was something I learned in both my Visual Journalism and Online Journalism classes during the previous school year. Since the internship, I have watched news programming astutely, looking to pick out the five-shot sequences in various packages. While I never got a chance to actually edit any video, I saw how the art of video-editing was performed and feel as if I got much needed experience by doing so. On days when Mike was out or on assignment, the producer and I would make lists of timecodes and audio tracks to be edited in packages. I would be sent down to the editing booths where I worked directly with an editor who would make the package for me. This has also taught me valuable lessons as I soon was able to determine correct video and audio sequences to make a successful package.
When it came to analyzing footage to make a package, Bob Halloran taught me to do so in a much quicker, more time-efficient manner. Logging quotes was something I struggled with and found tedious and unnecessary. However, Bob showed me ways to do it that took half the time as I did, using editorial short-hand and abbreviations to determine usable quotes. Professionally, I have used this shorthand method when listening to audio tracks to decide which quotes to use in an article. Even during interviews, my shorthand has improved while writing down quotes. The practical application of a simple, everyday activity, as such, has been first-rate and I’ve become a better reporter because of it.
In closing, the four months I spent at WCVB flew by in a flash and I could not be more grateful for the experience and knowledge I gained during my internship. From an educational and experiential standpoint, the internship was most definitely worthwhile. I would consider doing a future internship with Channel 5, but personally I would want to do it in another field outside of sports to broaden my focus, versatility, and experience. There were two minor things I wished I had gotten the chance to do during this past summer. The first would be to have video editors give interns a tutorial on how to use the editing software to make a package rather than only having us watch them do it. The second would be to give interns a test news show, allowing interns the opportunity to write, produce, and perform a brief newscast to use on resume reels. Other than that, I thought the internship was very comprehensive and I thoroughly enjoyed my time and experience at WCVB and with its wonderful and talented staff.