Working from Start to Finish at Al Jazeera English


Nina Zafar posing as the subject to test lighting for an interview at author Barbara Ehrenreich’s home

By Dean’s Intern Nina Zafar at Al Jazeera English

Working at Al Jazeera is unlike any internship I’ve had before—in the best way!  I’ve been able to be a part of the documentary film-making process from start to finish (although we haven’t gotten to finish yet).  I’m working with a team of producers who are each working on their own documentary.  One is on the upcoming Republican National Convention and one is about the rise of Donald Trump.

My work on these docs ranges from basic tasks like transcribing interviews and fact checking information, to more hands on work.  A couple weeks ago, the team working on the Trump documentary invited me along to an interview out in Alexandria, VA with author Barbara Ehrenreich.  She’s best known for her 2001 book, Nickel and Dimed, On (Not) Getting By in America).  I had heard of the book before (which is a memoir of Ehrenreich’s three-month experiment surviving on minimum wage as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide and a Walmart clerk) so it was really cool to be able to meet her at her home and listen to her speak in person.

Another rewarding aspect of this internship is how much the producers really value my opinion.  When I transcribe interviews, I’m asked which sound bytes I think are best.  When edits are made to the documentary, they invite me to view each new draft and we all discuss our opinions on it.  I am able to share edits on the scripts so I am always in the loop with what’s going on.  In this way, I’m able to feel less like the “intern” and more like the work I am doing is directly making a difference in the creative process.