October 11, 2006

Office of Public Information Internship Reflection

Office Life: Part of a Bigger Network
-Clips
-Confidentiality

In the Field: Taking Pictures
-Photo Opportunity
-1st Photo Shoot

Media Lingo
-Vocabulary

Interviewing
-In person

Reflection
My internship is going well. I'm getting an insider's look of the workforce and seeing how my work is part of the bigger network. I'm getting field experience in taking pictures. I'm learning the how on writing press releases. I understand more about the lingo used in the Media field, and interviewing concepts I've learned from the Setonian are being reinforced.

One of my jobs is to organize the clips for the Board members. Seton Hill University's Office of Public Information (OPI) hires a clipping service company to go through all the newspapers locally and in the state of PA. From this company we receive newspaper clippings which pertain to SHU: SHU in the Headlines, SHU in the News, Faculty and Staff, Athletics, and Students. I sort these out accordingly and once in while I'll see the same story being covered by different newspapers. I'd read the lead and study how it would differ from the other. For the most part, they remain the same. The leads may differ in length: extra information added to the lead, which the other newspapers decide to omit or place it somewhere else in the article.

Organizing and keeping records of the clips reminded me of George Orwell's book 1984. I'm using this reference in a positive way. I'm learning that even a "small" liberal arts university, such as SHU, has a lot of records of information. I can just imagine how much information a larger university can have. The issue of confidentiality came up. I was reminded about privacy issues: respect them.

My boss, Becca, explained to me OPI's ethics about confidentiality. We in OPI do not put a spin on any story. We tell the press as much as possible, and we do a careful investigation of any situation. Becca told me that the press will find out no matter what so actually lying to the press will give a bad image to the university no matter what.

One of the great things about this internship is the pace, which constantly changes. I can be doing clips or writing press releases one day and the next go out in the public and take pictures. I've had three photo assignments so far. The first one was taking pictures of faculty with their dogs, and the second one was taking pictures of the Chemistry Club while they're cleaning the highway for Labor of Love.

The third one was doing the photo shoot for "Mazel". I enjoyed this one the most. The cast and crew sequestered a time for me to show up and take their pictures. I didn't have to worry about getting the names or writing which scenes I'm photographing because I had an assistant, who did this work for me. I was able to get as close to the actors as possible. I walked on stage and moved where the best lighting was. Everything was almost set up for me like a photo illustration. The only difference was that in Theater it was natural for actors to pose. It was in their nature to act; they were acting for the camera. Basically, they did scenes, and I walked around them taking pictures from angles. In some instances, the director guided me. This was also another awesome experience because I got the perspective of the director: how he framed a scene. When I took the pictures I didn't feel self-conscious or like I'm overstepping a boundary. The reason for this was that the cast and crew and I were collaborating. They wanted the publicity, and I was doing my job.

Writing press releases helps me to review the fundamentals of informing (answering the five W's and how). I'm also doing a lot of editing in the press release. The main editing I do is condensing to the main point (as bare as possible- not many details). In the beginning, I found this really difficult. I'm fighting off tendency (writer's habit) to make things flow. I'm still having trouble with this, but I've progressed. The press releases I'm writing now are to the point.

Being in the working environment, I hear Becca use Media lingo such as News Whole, layout, above the fold, cut line, free press coverage, and media advisory. Itís just amazing to experience these terms and see its application (rather than reading about it in books).

My recent assignment is doing a story on the Hawaiian marathon in which several SHU students participated in during the summer. I emailed them the questions, and they didn't respond. Meeting them in person (especially for students) is still the best way to interview people because they have to deal with it right away (no time to put it off).

I'm enjoying my internship, and I'm learning a lot.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at October 11, 2006 9:46 AM
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