Community Journalism at WSHU

  • May 15, 2023
Community Journalism at WSHU


   Xenia at WSHU

By Xenia Gonikberg

          At WSHU, I got the chance to experience working in a real newsroom environment. Over the course of four months, I developed my news writing, audio recording and editing skills. This internship was my first “true” journalism internship, meaning that it revolved solely around writing for news and publication rather than marketing or public relations. This allowed me to hone specific skills that will benefit me as a news writer, producer, or editor.

           I came in to the WSHU Bureau office in Stony Brook every Monday and Wednesday between 9 am and 2 pm, where J.D Allen would assign me tasks to work on. These tasks ranged from researching a web story, writing audio scripts, or reaching out to potential sources for comment. Once I reached out to a source, I would record our phone conversation through Adobe Audition and pick out the soundbites I wanted to use from that in my stories for the day.

          This experience made me more comfortable with reaching out to people on the phone, as that was something I was uncomfortable with before starting this internship. At the end of each shift, I would have a completed web copy or audio piece that would go live within the next few hours and days. It was really rewarding to see all the work I was doing was paying off, as I got to see my work published firsthand on WSHU’s website.

          Additionally, this internship exposed me to local reporting, which I ended up enjoying throughout my time at WSHU. It was amazing to write about issues that affect the community around me and to learn about the local politics and laws that exist throughout the Suffolk County and Connecticut areas. I developed a routine every week that made me feel comfortable balancing my schoolwork with my internship responsibilities. As a result, it solidified my desire to pursue local journalism.

            WSHU also helped me develop new skills. At the beginning of my internship, I had very limited knowledge of Adobe Audition. Through repeated exposure to its features by recording interviews and soundbites, I developed a comprehensive understanding of the software.

            Familiarizing myself with Audition will prove to be extremely beneficial in my journalism career, so I am glad I got the opportunity to learn how to use it. I also developed my “radio voice” throughout this internship through writing, editing, and producing audio stories from start to finish. It was incredibly rewarding to look back and see my improvement from the beginning of the semester to now.

            Both J.D Allen and Terry Sheridan played a pivotal role in my experience at WSHU Public Radio through their guidance and support. Terry’s willingness to listen to my audio packages for one last pass-through before they got published helped me see what I needed to cut down or rerecord. His objective eye and keen listening abilities helped me see that while some things might need improvement, my work was still what he called “fabulous.”

           In addition, J.D’s edits and advice on my scripts and my recordings allowed me to develop a strong radio voice and writing style. Before my first recording session at the booth, J.D took the time to walk around the fourth floor with me to show how to pace my breath and speaking tone when recording soundbites for their afternoon show and podcast, All Things Considered and After All Things. Both of their support was crucial throughout the process of this internship.

          Before taking on this internship, I was at a crossroads in my career. Due to extreme burnout, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue journalism post-grad. In addition, I was dealing with imposter syndrome, and I was unsure about my writing abilities. But, after spending 10 hours a week for four months working at WSHU’s Long Island Bureau with my fellow interns, J.D and Terry, I reinvigorated my love for reporting on social issues and the environment, as well as solidified my desire to work in radio. It also helped me realize that not only am I a good writer, but my words matter to the communities I am reporting on.

         I believe that having this experience will pave the way for me to get other jobs in radio in the future, which is why I am incredibly grateful for my time at WSHU Public Radio this semester.