I spoke this week with Tracy Boucher, Director of New Development at the Los Angeles Times, to map out goals and assignments for my Back in the Newsroom Fellowship that begins June 1. Boucher wears many hats at the Times, including handling their award submissions. She is also in charge of their internship program. I’m being grouped along with this summer’s Times interns, a supercharged, impressive group of students from some distinguished U.S. colleges, including Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford and Columbia. I’ll be the oldest guy in the group, by far, so this aspect of the program should provide some lighthearted moments for me and them. And a great learning experience too, I imagine.
This alignment with the interns also brings me full circle, as I was a Berkeley journalism student with an internship in the Times’ San Francisco bureau in the mid-1980’s. I had a grand time and wrote many stories, including this one about the escape of two patas monkeys from the San Francisco Zoo. I also stayed on in the bureau for several months after the internship ended in a full-time, non-permanent reporting role before taking a staff writer job at the now defunct Santa Monica Outlook. Yes, I’ve closed a few papers in my time.
I found the list of this summer’s interns illuminating as it shows the breadth of newsroom opportunities for digital age journalists. While some students are assigned to traditional sections such as news, business, and arts and entertainment, others will be interning at more exotic-sounding desks such as “visual journalism” and “visualization and data.”
I’ve been assigned to L.A. Now, an online section with breaking news about California. I’m excited about the placement. The blog reinforces the digital-first mentality that I’d like to instill in my Corsair students. Boucher explained that items on L.A. Now are sometimes online only, as they lose their news value by the time the print edition goes to press. Or if L.A. Now items are presented in print, such as this week’s oil spill in Santa Barbara, it will be written about in a more thoughtful way in the print product. The Times assumes that readers already know the basic news from digital sources and are looking for more analysis in the newspaper.