A Range of Responsibilities at The Washington Post

Mark at The Washington Post

By Dean’s Intern Mark Lieberman at The Washington Post

Just like snowflakes, no two days at the Washington Post are alike. (It’s appropriate that my internship is taking place during the winter.)

As a Dean’s intern at the Metro desk, I walk in on Mondays and Wednesdays knowing very little about the rest of my day. Sometimes I sit down and an editor hands me a story right away. Other times, it’s up to me to pitch a story idea of my own. Sometimes I can complete the assignments from within the warm confines of the Post’s newsroom – call the family of a hit-and-run victim to find out how he’s doing, confirm the biographical details of a recently deceased congressman. Other times, my tasks take me into DC – try to interview the couple who left their toddlers in a van while they went wine tasting in Georgetown, for instance. My days are never boring.

None of the internship cliches have applied to me so far. I haven’t gotten anyone’s coffee or made a single copy. No one condescends to me. I’m treated like a regular reporter and staff writer for one of the most respected news organizations in the United States. I don’t take the honor lightly.

Nor do I expect to come out of the internship without edits. Last week, I wrote the aforementioned Congressman obituary for Adam Bernstein, the obituaries editor. Obituaries, though short, require an enormous amount of legwork. After poring through political almanacs and old newspaper articles, pulling out quotes and key bits of information, I synthesized the entire life of a man I never met into a 500-word story. The task was challenging but rewarding, as I found a way to show the world that a man most readers have never met had a life worth knowing about.

Mr. Bernstein sat down with me and made one change after another to my story. I inevitably reacted defensively in my mind, but I quickly realized that this sort of advice is invaluable, and that there will never be a time when my writing defies critique. The collaborative environment at the Washington Post is pushing me to think in more detailed ways about the words I write and the order I put them in. I’d like to think the constructive criticism is paying off.

Four weeks in, my internship shows no sign of slowing down, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. After writing my portion of the hit-and-run story, cops and courts editor Maria Glod came over to me with an ominous yet enticing preview of things to come.

“Next time, I’m sending you to a crime scene!” she said with a smile.

I look forward to it.