By Vinny Ball
I’ve been a self-professed audiophile for a few years now, so I could not pass up the opportunity to couple my passion for audio with my interest in journalism by interning at WSHU.
This was my first internship in journalism, and there’s a reason for that. I was horrified at the prospect of being someone’s coffee intern, or doing someone else’s dirty work only to see them get all the credit. There were no such nightmare scenarios at WSHU, where I was fortunate enough to contribute in a meaningful way.
I wrote, recorded and produced pieces that made it to air. I was trusted enough to go out and gather soundbites from the press conferences of notable Long Island officials like Steve Bellone and Laura Curran.
Each story I worked on presented a unique challenge, and because of that I became a better journalist. I learned how important it is to simplify a complex story for radio without shortchanging your audience, and I realized how even the simplest of stories must include some sort of compelling aspect that will keep listeners engaged.
One of my favorite parts about the internship was the element of surprise it offered. Some days I’d be writing and voicing scripts from the office, but on other days I’d be covering a press conference on the beach in Oyster Bay. I selected journalism as a major because of that randomness. The fact that you never know where you’re going to have reported before the day begins is exhilarating.
In addition to being a great mentor throughout the internship process, Terry Sheridan, the bureau’s managing editor, was very patient and understanding with me. Despite the early struggles I had voicing my pieces, Terry remained a positive, motivating force, noting what needed to be corrected before my voice would be heard over the airwaves. I’m thankful for the clear direction he always gave, as well as the enthusiasm he would often display around the office. Terry’s great sense of humor helped contribute to the bureau’s inviting atmosphere.
As with any journalistic endeavor, there were the typical barriers. Sources who promised they’d give you the quote you need, only to never call back, but you still have to make the story work without them. Whether it’s finding another source, or working around the absence of any sort of soundbite, you have to prove your resourcefulness to your colleagues.
Thanks to my time at WSHU, I think I’m that much closer to understanding what it means to have a career in journalism.