My apologies for my delay in posting. Since school wrapped up, I was able to spend a little bit of time at home before coming to NYC to start my internship with Fareed Zakaria’s CNN Show Global Public Square. After this I’ll be headed to Sri Lanka to work on a social entrepreneurship project that I am really excited about (more on that later!) First things first, inspired by this Crimson column that I thought was pretty spot on in describing Harvard summers, I figured I’d go ahead and share with you a little bit of mine… Here goes!
Thursdays are show days. The beginning of the week creeps by slowly riddled with planning and research and story pitching. The first three days of the week however are nothing compared to Thursdays. You see, on Thursday—and Friday—the show is made. At least that’s what I learned my first week at CNN’s Global Public Square Show (GPS) with Fareed Zakaria. A complete newcomer to this side of journalism, my mind completely front-wheeled when my supervisor started talking about ingests and slugs and copies (and for the record, I’m not talking about the kind you make at the copy machine.)
In my first week I was introduced to three new computer programs, figured out what a rundown actually is and how to create one, sat in the control room and watched our show take off, and prompted our host—a job that may seem unglamorous to most but that I would tell you was more stressful for me than preparing for Finals.
In short, it was a week that had me finding my way at CNN. And I’m happy to report that in between checking out the control room, taking in all the new faces, and doing my own first assignments for my supervisor, I sensed how it is that CNN still values—as they like to say—their “southern roots.” I appreciated how, even as my colleagues were charged with putting a whole show together and prepping for interviews with the likes of former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, they still made time to teach me, to check in on me, and to really take care of me.
My internship at CNN was a serendipitous find. Funded by the Institute of Politic’s wonderful Director’s Internship Program, it seemed the perfect fit for someone who was internationally focused and too interested in journalism and its future in a landscape that is constantly changing. I have a feeling though that by the end of the internship, I will walk away with more than just the experience of having been immersed in the news world; I will too have learned the art of producing a show—a side benefit and a whole world in journalism that I have never quite explored.
I will have learned how to really take an angle on a story, how to develop it, and how to inject fresh, new analysis that really reveals the deeper meaning or lessons to be learned. And hopefully, I will at least be able to tell you what a slug is.
I come to CNN at an interesting time. Journalism has long been a field that is experiencing a sea change, a product of a technological revolution that prominent news companies are still figuring out how to capitalize off of and monetize around. More specifically, here at CNN, there has been a tremendous amount of internal restructuring since new President— and Harvard College alum—Jeff Zucker came in January. CNN, like every news organization, is trying to figure out its market, its role, and its specialty in a news market that is often oversaturated and a news age that does not merely encourage redefinition but demands it.
Hard cuts and difficult choices will have to be made, but if there was one thing I realized in my first week at CNN it was that therein lies too incredible potential for entrepreneurship and innovation in this space. This fundamentally excites me. And in my opinion, there’s no better time for this.
Recent headlines about NSA and other high security leaks have seen the American people starting a conversation with its government about what information should and should not be disclosed when it comes to security of the homeland. These leaks have also, however, reminded us of just how important journalism is. Journalists do not just cover the news; they also push our government and our administration to be accountable and transparent with the people.
They are, at their core, public servants. In many ways they reinforce the social contract that exists between the state and her citizens. And so, if journalism is to remain that first draft of history that sets things in motion, journalistic innovation is not just necessary for the survival of the news industry—but too for the survival of our democracy. I’m excited to use my internship this summer to work at the nexus of the two.