Making Front Page News

Dean’s Intern Kendall Breitman at USA TODAY.

Looking for an interesting way to pass time? Try calling Americans and asking them how they feel about the economy.

This was the task that I was assigned this Monday as an intern with USA TODAY’s Washington Bureau. After conducting a pre-State of the Union poll on public opinion of the economy with the Pew Research Center, my job was to perform call-backs on those surveyed. For hours, I sat at my computer and called Americans at their homes, conducting interviews and jotting down notes.

As you can imagine, I heard a lot of opinions. Some conversations led to negative comments about the government (“They’re all crooked,” yelled one man I interviewed), while others seemed to hold the idea that the economic situation could only get better from where we currently stand.

Despite the fact that calling Americans to ask about this economy seemed at first to be a dreadful task, that Monday was my favorite day at the office thus far. For hours, I spoke to Americans all across the country about their lives, and I was shocked to see how easily people opened up about their experiences with America’s economy. I spoke to one man from New Mexico who had to sell his small business because he could no longer afford to pay his staff, another woman from Minnesota who was recently laid off of her job (and was talented enough to answer my interview questions while simultaneously changing her son’s diaper), and a high school student from Arizona who spoke about her fears of not being able to afford a college education. All across the nation, people seemed to be sharing similar stories of struggle.

By the time I was told by my boss that I was free to go home for the day, I had had 14 real and honest conversations with total strangers, and I honestly enjoyed every second of it. I felt like a full-fledged reporter, but I also felt like a better person after hearing all of these stories. It felt even better knowing that I have the amazing and unique opportunity to share what I heard in a national newspaper.

When I got in to work that Thursday, I picked up my copy of USA TODAY at the front door of the office, like I do every morning. There, on the front page of the newspaper, was my byline on the story I had researched. As an aspiring journalist, this was probably the most excited I have ever been.

Let me tell you, nothing feels cooler than seeing your name in your morning newspaper as you sip on your 2nd cup of coffee.


See the article here: