Journalism internship: first round

7:30a.m. The ringing of my alarm clock got me straight out of bed. Running around the house like a mad hatter, I could feel my stomach tightening at the idea of the day starting. Day 1 internship at the local newspaper was about to begin.

But before I go further into the details of my exciting adventure inside the editing room, I would like to come back on the assault course to become an intern for the month.

Pursuing this utopian dream of journalism, it was last Easter that I decided to give the fantasy a shot of reality and contacted a couple of local papers in the hope of getting a first experience in the field. After some unanswered mails and unsuccessful calls, I had given up the idea of me playing the apprentice journalist this summer.

Yet, a few weeks later, sitting bold in my inbox, was a reply from the area’s reference newspaper agreeing to take me on for August. BINGO !

But because it was all too easy to be true, I was asked to send one of the French admin’s beloved form (by me very much hated) “Convention de Stage”.  A “Convention de Stage” does not exist on the GB island and you are far better off without it.

Simply, it confirms your registration at university, acknowledges your internship and is warrant during your time in the company. Yet, if the University of York can attest of my student status and recognizes the internship, it would not take any responsibility for it.

Well, I often had to fight against bureaucracy but this was a tough one. The absence of the precious paper was about to prevent me to get any close from the dreamt editing room and, I must say, was getting harshly on my nerves.

No suspense. It all finally worked out and I will spare you the nasty battle to get it done.

So back to Day 1. It was a very warm day, one of those I would usually lie in the sun and read a book. But the book and the deckchair were far from my mind as I walked up and down the street waiting for the main entrance to open (early stressed arrival !).

A few minutes later I was playing it “as cool as a cucumber” meeting the associate editor in the main hall and following him up the stairs into the editing room.

The large room was packed with unoccupied desks and scattered newspapers. From one of the desk, Laura, the other summer intern, welcomed me with a friendly smile. I immediately got the feeling that things were going to be fine.

I was allocated to one of the desks and given a few papers to read while waiting for the 10-o’clock editing meeting.

The weekly newspaper comes out every Monday morning and exclusively deals with local news and events. From what I gather, the regular readership is over 40 of age although a lot of locals sometimes like to flick through the area’s news. Community life is thus often punctuated with robberies, aggressions, car accidents and cats and dogs stories, definitely not the most thrilling, but topics to fill up the pages during the quiet summer months.

As the clock moves closer to ten, people start to come and go in the warm redaction room. The journalist team is on arrival, all young men but one woman who walks in a manly way. The other female representatives seem to dominate in the admin and publicity department: sadly this is still a man’s world.

As summer is in full swing, the team is much reduced and holidays are the main topic of conversation: jokes rockets across the room, everyone kisses and embraces (French “bise” mandatory).

10:17. End of the fun for now and time for the serious stuff to begin. I follow the last echoing laughs into a dark and cold meeting room. As we sat down, I realise that what I had  believed to be a large crowd was actually an only eight people team. I learnt later that the paper works in relation with 28 correspondents who, for a meagre pay, write weekly articles on a selected area.

The meeting started in the same relaxed atmosphere as we went round for ideas and proposition for Mondays’ paper. I sat there quietly, making occasional and useless comments just to make the point that I was there. I managed to slip in at the end a proposition for an article on the controversial exploration of shale gas in the region. Eyes rolled back and some sighed: “we did that last month already” – “too controversial”.

Well. First I thought journalism was also about controversy and debate. Secondly I think once a month is far from enough according that the release of shale gas might provoke major health problems to the whole population. Thirdly car accident happen every day and still they don’t see the problem in talking about it every week.

I kept the frustration for myself. I was the guest there.

Otherwise, I believed I had successfully passed the first test. The family atmosphere made me rapidly feel at ease with everyone and (extra-super-mega-cool) I was given a topic to work on.

It had finally all started!


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