Entering New Territory at a Trade Publication

Credit: Andrew Lapin

Christyn at her desk at Current (Credit: Andrew Lapin)

Dean’s Intern Christyn Enser at Current

This semester at Current marks my fifth and final internship as an SOC student. It is the last in a series of opportunities that I’ve had while attending AU, with a slew of news organizations to choose from in the DC metro area. This internship has continued a trend of (purposefully) different newsroom experiences. I never wanted to do the same thing twice and, luckily, I never had to. I’ve worked for daily and weekly newspapers, an online publication and a museum. But Current is still different: it is a bi-weekly trade publication published in print and online that covers public media.

Specificity in coverage doesn’t make the paper’s content less complex. When I arrived at the office in January, I hadn’t actively tuned into public media since I was a kid, when I watched PBS classics from the 1990s, like Wishbone and Arthur. It had “been awhile,” to say the least. But being an intern at Current helped me remember how important public broadcasting had been throughout my childhood and realize how important it remains today.

My first assignment was interviewing PBS’ vice president of children’s programming about a new math series being developed for PBS Kids. She described a grueling process, one where curriculum for each episode must meet the Department of Education’s approval. Then there was grant writing and reliance on government funding. Add on to this the normal pressure of casting, filming and editing and PBS Kids’ programming seems nothing short of a miracle.  It also turned out that this PBS executive had helped produce some of my favorite cartoon series on other major networks, including The Powerpuff Girls and Rugrats. She is just one of many unsung heroes who work behind the scenes to produce quality children’s programming.

I’ve taken every opportunity I can at Current  to better understand public media’s often overlooked role in the media landscape. This meant attending as many events as possible, from the board of directors’ meeting at PBS headquarters to the unveiling of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at the Library of Congress. Each event helped reveal the delicate balancing act public media must play: produce content found nowhere else under the pressure of congressional budgets. Despite the challenges, I saw many public media enthusiasts; not just legislators or corporate executives, but small radio station managers and independent filmmakers.

It’s fitting that I would be a novice during my last internship, better able to appreciate that all internships are learning experiences first.