The only thing a journalist needs is a pen, paper, and some good quality underwear. After I found out about my internship with the Winnipeg Free Press I immediately bought a new pair of undergarments-logically. Something big was happening in my life and I needed to be-comfortable.
On my first day, my parents drove me to work, an hour and thirty-minute drive. Like any proud father, my dad packed my lunch and took pictures of me outside the Free Press-and sent them to my grandparents, neighbors, and first cousins 15 times removed.
I had to work on Christmas day. Luckily, I was able to do an article on my hometown. I wrote a follow up piece on the Powerview-Pine Falls mill that shut down in 2010. I called people for interviews and began my spiel with “Hi! My name is Elizabeth Fraser from the Winnipeg Free Press-“
“…Merry Christmas to you too.”
I didn’t mind when they hung up. The issue was when they called back-primarily because I didn’t know how to answer the phone. As it rang, my heart did full fledge acrobatic leaps- even if it wasn’t my phone that was ringing.
By the end of the week, I was still afraid to ask where the bathroom was. Every time I pitched a story I would sweat out the Pacific Ocean. I never left my cubicle, unless it was to talk to my editor- he was within 5 cm’s of my desk.
But I didn’t mind. I had my very own Free Press e-mail, media pass, and the intern who sat behind me was a stud from Ontario.
That week I also realized that the more story ideas I pitched, the less likely I’d have to write about a homicide or worse-sports.
I wrote another story about the online grieving process after a loved one has died. It was difficult to interview people who had lost someone. But it was a story that needed to be told, and I wanted to be the one to tell it. I spent hours editing, reediting, and re reediting my story. And when I wasn’t doing that-I was wiping my eyes with 25 rolls of toilet paper between paragraphs.
I was proud of my work, and the toilet paper was proof.
My best friend told me to refrain from reading the comments about my story online. So evidently, I read the comments.
I quickly realized that not every reader was as supportive as my mom. They misinterpreted my story’s objective and began to attack. Their remarks were like butcher knives-and I was the pig about to be slaughtered.
Writing in CP style wasn’t the only thing I learned at the end of the week. When I returned my media pass and said goodbye to the Ontarian stud, I discovered that readers don’t care about your clothes or your undergarments. Understandably, they just want the story.
But the next time you read an article at your kitchen table, on the bus, or at your computer remember-
Journalists are people too.
I know right?
They bring cookies for coworkers who have to work on Christmas.
They have pictures that their 5-year olds drew at their desks.
Sometimes they curse and yell at that darn telephone.
They talk about their families and holiday trips.
They talk about Newtown, city council, and Friday night plans.
They talk about people who have yelled, ignored and been down right rude.
They talk about good interviews and bad interviews.
But for the most part, they talk about stories. Stories that have empowered them, made them angry, and made them cry. Regardless, they’re stories for you- the reader, which allow you to feel what they’re feeling as reporters- as humans.
At the end of the day, or the end of the week, we’re all people with stories to be shared-undergarments and all.