By Rafael Fonseca Cruvinel
Interning at Tu Prensa Local taught me a lot about the news industry, even before I officially started. For the past three months, I’ve reported on stories of relevance to the Latino community on the East End of Long Island, which taught me a lot about the importance of quality local news for all ethnic groups. As a bonus, I developed my skills in another language and opened doors for the future.
Despite some moments of difficulty, I consider this internship to be a breath of fresh air after multiple frustrating experiences in the past.
I got this internship after sending a cold email to editor and publisher Maria del Mar Piedrabuena last Thanksgiving. She had visited my JRN 217 class and I was enchanted by her work at Tu Prensa Local right away. I sent her an email asking if there were any internship opportunities for students and she got back to me in January, inviting me to a Zoom meeting with her.
In the meeting, we discussed my strengths and also talked in Spanish, so that she could evaluate my level of understanding of the language. The process enriched my knowledge about the news industry because it was an illustration of how being proactive really pays off in the field. I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to pitch myself to publications and that it is possible to get positions out of cold emails.
As an intern, I had the opportunity to report on stories of relevance to the Latino community on the East End of Long Island. Covering these stories, I became aware of issues on the island that need to be addressed such as the housing crisis on the East End and the condition of Stony Brook’s Southampton campus, as well as learned about the importance of quality local news.
When I covered the housing crisis, I interviewed an immigrant from Guatemala who had to sleep in a car with her children after being forced out of her house in the middle of the pandemic. In the interview, she mentioned that she had hopes that, once the story was published by the media, more attention would be given to the situation and potentially more solutions would be presented.
This experience, added to conversations that I had with Maria, highlighted the importance of quality local news in languages other than English. Many people on Long Island don’t speak English; still, they deserve to be informed on what’s happening in their community and how this can affect them. Although I was already conscient of this, I never had the chance to contribute to the cause before and doing so was extremely fulfilling.
Moreover, I developed my skills in Spanish, which is my third language. Reporting on these stories gave me confidence that I can be fluent in Spanish and that, if needed, I can fill in that gap for the publications I work in. Maria also mentioned my linguistic growth during our meetings.
There one negative is that the internship is unpaid. Even though my work hours were very flexible, I did put a lot of time and effort into the organization and I believe that a payment method could be figured out. I do understand, however, that Tu Prensa Local is a small publication and Maria might not have the financial condition to pay her interns.
Summarizing, my experience at Tu Prensa Local was overall positive and a great relief. I would do it again and honestly believe that other Stony Brook students should apply there.