By Nick Musumeci
At Long Island Business News, I learned many lessons about journalism and developed a host of skills. I was given real responsibility as a contributor to both the website and the weekly newspaper, and I am grateful for the opportunity. My experience at LIBN has helped me become a better journalist and made me more prepared to enter the field following my graduation next spring.
On my arrival at Long Island Business News, I was unsure what to expect. What responsibilities would I have? How much would I be working? Would I be able to report on my own? On my first day, I almost immediately began reporting on a breaking news story, about the New York Islanders returning to Nassau Coliseum for a number of home games over the course of the next three seasons. That article went up on the web within hours of completion and appeared in the newspaper later that week.
Over the course of the next 15 weeks, I reported countless stories on a variety of subjects. Some topics I had advance knowledge of, others I learned on the fly. By Valentine’s Day, I had published several stories.
But the course of my internship was about to change.
After I left LIBN and arrived on campus for my afternoon class that day, I stopped into the equipment room for a few minutes. Phil Altiere had the TV turned to a news station reporting a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. “Parkland, Florida, that sounds really familiar,” I remember thinking. I texted my cousin, who goes to high school in South Florida, to ask her what the name of her school was. She didn’t respond. I remembered her telling me that she went to the same high school as Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. I looked up where Rizzo went to school: Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida.
I reached my cousin and spoke to her for half an hour in the library, trying to calm her down. She didn’t know if her friends were alive or dead.
I call South Florida my home away from home, and have relatives who knew some of those affected by the shooting. It changed my entire attitude. I never was all that interested in gun control, but when I got back to LIBN, I was determined to report on what had happened.
Within two weeks, I put together a cover story for the paper and it ran right on the front page. I interviewed school security experts, school officials, and the father of a student who survived the massacre. It was the best reporting I’ve done, and it made me the go-to reporter on the gun control and school safety issues in the office. When Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would no longer sell assault weapons, I got the story. I got another story when they announced that they’d destroy all unsold guns, rather than returning them to the manufacturers. When LIBN co-hosted a school security forum with law enforcement and security experts, I was on scene interviewing the panelists. The school security and gun control issue became a sort of “series” that I did for the paper. It really meant a lot to me to report on an issue so timely, newsworthy, and important to the country.
As I continued to report for LIBN, I gained valuable experience and honed my skills as a journalist. I learned how to deal with obstacles in reporting, and how to write effectively for a newspaper. I dealt with deadlines and difficult situations, but I made sure I turned in quality work.
If an underclassman came to me, asking about possibly interning at LIBN or elsewhere, I’d absolutely tell them to go for it. Interning at a small news outlet turned out to be an unforgettable experience: It allowed me to be a real part of the team. At some large networks and papers, interns don’t get to report all that much. They kind of just watch and learn. At LIBN, I accumulated dozens of quality clips to add to my resume. I was not an intern as much as I was a real employee, and I would definitely advise underclassmen to intern at a place that will give them that kind of responsibility.