By Jennifer Corr
This summer, I was a reporter for a local newspaper named the Long Island Herald. To make the experience even more unique, it was an hour away from my home in Centereach.
I would definitely recommend this internship to anyone who is looking to gain experience in print journalism.
The Long Island Herald is a collection of weekly papers that covers specific towns such as Merrick and Wantagh in Nassau County. Over the summer, I covered a town called East Meadow, a town that I knew nothing about.
My first experience with East Meadow was the day of my interview. The managing editor, Scott Brinton, asked me a few questions at the paper’s Garden City office. I was hired as an intern on the spot, and he told me I would be covering East Meadow. I told him I would like to explore the town while I was in the area, and he just told me to make a left and head toward the huge Eisenhower Park, which is bigger than Central Park. Everyone in Nassau made sure to tell me it was bigger than Central Park.
I hopped into my car and drove onto the Hempstead Turnpike, which is right next to Eisenhower Park, feeling excited to begin my journey in East Meadow.
On my first day, I was assigned a cubicle, I met my editor, Brian, and I searched through newspapers for ideas. For my first article, I decided to write an article about teen vaping.
I started out by calling the local police department and school district. Anytime I called the Nassau Police Department, I was transferred around five times and was told to send an email, which was met with no reply.
The school district, however, did work with me. I got an article from public relations stating that the East Meadow School District was “disturbed” by the trend. From there, I spoke to an owner of a vape shop, a representative from The Truth Initiative, an anti-smoking campaign, and a local legislator.
To my surprise, the article made front page.
Around that time, I also interviewed the valedictorian and salutatorian from W.T. Clarke High School in the East Meadow School District. The students were talkative and excited for college. I spoke to the valedictorian’s father on the phone as well. He talked my ear off about how proud he was and he even called me back to tell me more. It was truly the most adorable thing I have ever experienced in my journalism career.
A lesson I learned from this internship was the value of Facebook. I used Facebook as a tool to find sources during my first three semesters as a journalism student. During this internship, however, I used Facebook as a means to find stories.
I would spend time scrolling through local Facebook groups about topics such as community history, dogs and politics. It was then I saw someone post a picture about voting reform. It led me to learn so much about New York politics while pursuing two articles about this subject. I spoke with a lawyer, a state senator and a local activist.
The highlight of my internship, however, was the project that all the interns had to do, which was to contribute to a series called “Working.” We had to shadow someone for a day and write an article about what that person does.
After searching for possible candidates, I decided to shadow a worker from the local homeless shelter, Bethany House. From there, I connected with a volunteer and employee named Jane McCabe.
After setting up a date and time, I drove to the address McCabe gave me. At first I wasn’t sure I went to the right place, as all I saw was a neighborhood in Baldwin.
With the help of McCabe, I was able to find the house, which was a brick house that appeared small on the outside. No one passing it would know it was a homeless shelter.
While talking to McCabe, I learned she was once an editor for a tea magazine, which I thought was amazing. Along with another volunteer, McCabe was setting up for dinner. I helped make the table and fold the napkins.
I then found myself eating with everyone at the table. I learned it was not hard to make the children there smile. My memo pad became an autograph book for one boy. The craft night was the highlight of the day for one girl.
The internship with the Long Island Herald taught me that there are stories to be told all over the place. You can find a story in a dumb trend, a proud father, a Facebook group and even an average looking suburban home. You just have to open your eyes.