Hitting the Ground Running at NBCWashington.com

James at NBC Washington

By Dean’s Intern James Doubek at NBCWashington.com

My internship is at NBCWashington.com. It’s my first internship in a real newsroom. Both the TV and web teams work out of the same big office space. As you would expect, it’s always active. The assignment editor is always yelling out what he just heard on the police scanner or saw on the wires. Phones constantly ring and multiple televisions are on, most of them tuned to NBC4. Reporters and anchors are always walking (or running) around to get the latest news on the air.

The web team is a small group of people who put up stories on NBCWashington.com, send push notifications, update social media, upload videos to the website and do everything else that isn’t TV.

I spend most of my time writing articles. They’re usually on the fairly short side; the website is designed for people who want to get their news quickly. It’s all for local news, which means a lot of crime and local politics. I’ve already written 40 articles that have appeared on the website.

Some articles I work on are a little longer; for example, one big story is the Fairfax police shooting of John Geer in 2013 and subsequent investigations. I also sometimes use my best wit to write about not-so-serious matters, like a new dating app or a “terrifying” cookie shortage.

It’s great to get this type of writing experience. The first goal is accuracy; the second goal is speed. I know that by writing constantly I’m improving my reflexes and abilities. It’s great to be able to get instant feedback on my work from members of a real news team.

I also edit videos from the TV broadcast to put on the website. I write the captions and headlines.

My supervisors are also open to my ideas for stories. I went to a protest against the Citizens United decision and interviewed Congressman Keith Ellison. I pitched the story and wrote it the same day.

Over the next months, I’m also going to be working with reporters in the field, television producers and directors to learn about how they do their jobs. My internship is only for a few months, so I’m doing my best to learn as much as possible from everyone while I’m here.