Walking into the Times building from the First Street entrance you encounter an impressive statue of a menacing eagle. It was designed by Gutson Borglum, sculptor of Mt. Rushmore, and it has a hallowed place in L.A. Times history. The eagle once perched on the roof of three different Times buildings before being moved into the lobby. A print representation of the eagle adorned the Times masthead for decades. It’s a symbol of courage and strength and a source of motivation as editorial workers step into the elevators and start their day working for a free press.
As another source of strength, Times employees are all about the doughnuts and cake, which seem to appear out of nowhere at different times during the day. This being a newsroom, news of the treats spreads fast, and you have to be quick to grab your share. And speaking of which, today was National Doughnut Day, and during the morning editorial meeting it appears that the Times coverage of this special event was doing quite well with the digital audiences.
As another special treat today, the interns and I were invited to meet with Henry Chu, a longtime foreign correspondent with the Times, who just completed a Neiman Fellowship at Harvard University. Chu traced his history at the paper, a career that began in 1990 when he was selected for the Times’ Metpro program, designed to train young journalists and increase diversity in newsrooms. He was hired straight from that two-year program to work at the paper’s San Fernando Valley edition and then became a foreign correspondent in 1998. He’s worked in Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi and currently London. He’s spending a few days at the Times office for some digital training, getting tips from the social media team on how to build a social audience and use Twitter as a reporting tool. He said that the best preparation for a career as a foreign correspondent is a good liberal arts education because it gives you the “critical and analytical framework” to view stories.
Chu mentioned that he also received training this week on using the mobile video editing app Videolicious, a program I also received some instruction on during my first week from video editor Robert Meeks of the Times. It’s for fast, in-the-field video editing that you record with your cell phone. I practiced with it to create a 30-second video on the Grand Central Market, so now I feel ready to use it on a story if called upon. I will be heading out to produce a short video for a story on Monday.
I also contributed to one of the Times’ many subscription newsletters, a growing area of focus for the media company. The Times editors feel that these newsletters, which arrive daily in the form of e-mail, are a great way to expand their market to new audiences. They are basically curated lists of links to stories of interest on a variety of topics, including breaking news, politics, entertainment and travel. I was asked to contribute some ending bright items to the Essential California Newsletter. Here is my first one. All in all, a very exciting and interesting first week!