Upon entering the WDIV building, and more specifically, the news room, I am greeted by the familiar sounds of muffled voices over the police scanner, a constant ring of the news tip line, the click-clack of reporters’ shoes on the floor and the rush of story ideas being passed from one desk to another – one journalist to another. This isn’t so different from the Michigan Daily atmosphere, where we have sports writers and designers all in communication with one another, news reporters and the copy desk debating a comma or em dash, some editors discussing the days’ content and other editors planning for the next day. There’s a familiarity of the news room I’ve always enjoyed; I like the fast-paced cohesion and constant interaction; I like getting tips and running to the scene; I like hearing people tell their stories over the phone in the hopes of having a larger impact on a government policy or social movement. I like engaging with a news room, whether for print, web or broadcast.
On Mondays and Tuesdays at WDIV, I first work with Chuck, a reporter on the assignment desk who says he loves breaking news. I can tell this is true when we receive a tip and he springs into action, covering all the bases – getting a reporter and photographer to the scene, informing the web team that a brief needs to go online and contacting the local police department for confirmation of the incident. It’s fast – it has to be, as we want to be the first at the scene over the other local news organizations. It’s efficient – it has to be, as going to these sites takes time and resources. It’s exciting – it’s never dull in the news room. It’s a job that is hands on, high-pressure, constantly changing and forever worth it.
The assignment desk, along with the entirety of the station building, is modern and clean. I enjoy the professional atmosphere that still allows for quality learning, engaging with the content and community and friendly mentorships. This is an environment I am used to with the Michigan Daily and with my high school newspaper, and strongly matches my work ethic and personality. I like a place where I can focus and work hard, but also one where I am not afraid to reach out or ask questions. I like a place where I can dress and act professionally, and where I am treated not as an intern, but as a fellow reporter. I like a place where I can interact with all aspects of the station’s production, both web and print, and all of those who put effort into its content. Not only can I work with editors, but also reporters, producers and anchors. It’s a multidisciplinary and intersectional environment that I feel I’ve been able to learn a lot from already.
I hope to be in a welcoming and professional environment such as this in the future because I am able to explore a number of opportunities and still feel respected. Starting in journalism can be intimidating as you’re afraid to ask your superiors questions or interrupt progress in a breaking news situation. But the editors and producers at WDIV have really made me feel like I am able to ask questions, try new things and initiate. I like that my hand isn’t being held – I am given tasks, I am told what I need to be doing but I am also treated like an independent journalist and have the responsibility to engage on my own. This is the best and most effective way for me to learn, especially when I first enter a new environment and am shy. It’s also very comforting to hear that many of those working in the news room currently have been interns at WDIV before – I’m glad to hear from those who have been through the internship program and are now working in the field. Overall, the physical environment is positive and comfortable, one where I am happy to come in and learn more about what I want to do!