Viola with NBC news anchor Lester Holt
By Viola Flowers
NBC Nightly News was one of the most influential experiences of my life. Before Nightly, I thought I wanted to do print journalism, and in a way I was hoping this internship would reaffirm that for me. But instead, it opened up a world of possibilities that I didn’t know existed for me in journalism.
I found that I love producing multimedia stories, writing scripts and pitching my own stories. I like the collaborative environment of the newsroom, working with correspondents, senior producers, editors and the studio crew. The Nightly team was one of the most welcoming, encouraging professional settings I’ve worked in and made me feel like I was truly a part of the team.
Broadcast journalism offers a different sense of gratification than traditional print. Although you can see articles published online with a quick turnaround if you’re working on breaking news or short stories, I’ve found that there is a delay between the work you’re doing on a story and the feeling when it’s published. Working at Nightly I saw producers assigned in a story at 11 a.m. and put together a two-minute spot by 6:30 p.m. They have the opportunity to see their work broadcast to a national audience by the end of the day.
But this comes with a massive adrenaline rush and a lot of stress. Stories are being finished at 6:32 to go on-air at 6:34. Producers are yelling at editors and each other over the phone, pacing back and forth, shouting across the newsroom for graphics or names to be spell checked. In the control room, the executive producer is trying to coordinate with seniors, remote producers and the director to make the show run smoothly.
When breaking news hits, the room gets chaotic very quickly. An example of this was on the last day of my internship when the Supreme Court announced its decision on the abortion pill mifepristone in the middle of our show. The first four stories went as planned, but after the first block the show completely changed. There were new cross talks with the legal and White House correspondents instead of packages that were supposed to air. Headlines had to be redone for the 7 PM show and the rundown was being changed as the show was going on.
This is one aspect that makes me hesitant about going into that type of broadcast or working on a show like Nightly. I’m not sure if that fast-paced adrenaline hit is something I want to end my night with every day, but there was also a part of me that found it fun and felt the rush everyone there was experiencing. I want to explore more longform types of multimedia in the future so I can compare it to evening news and see which is a better fit for me. I also want to be able to investigate stories and produce in-depth work, rather than 120 seconds of something. The producers I worked with gave me great guidance and advice about this and suggested interning at a show like Dateline next or working with the NBC documentary teams.
Overall, I am so grateful that I was able to explore broadcast news and learn from the best in the business. I made great connections with the people there and will definitely stay in touch with them moving forward and will continue to explore producing multimedia journalism as a potential career path.