You’ve probably read our stories, viewed our photos and graphics, or seen our other contributions to The Seattle Times’ news coverage this summer. Over the past several weeks, nine interns have been working to report breaking news, write enterprise stories, make maps, cover Mariners games and much more, all while working mostly remotely.
It’s been an unconventional, unforgettable summer.
The bylines include Akash Pasricha on the business team, Andy Yamashita on the sports beat, Daisy Zavala and Daniel Wu on the metro desk, Jade Stewart on the features team, Madeleine Kornfeld on the Times’ investigative team, Michala Garrison with graphics and photographer Sylvia Jarrus. I’ve been on the copy-editing desk, scrabbling with grammar, punctuation and Associated Press Style.
Coming into this internship, one of my personal goals was to learn more about how newsrooms and newspapers actually worked. My college classes helped me figure out how to “do” journalism. But this was my first time in a newsroom, albeit a virtual one.
This summer, almost all interns at The Times are working remotely. Most are in Seattle, but some positions, like those on the photo and sports desks, require more in-person work than others.
One advantage of remote work has been the many opportunities over the summer to attend brown-bag training sessions specifically for interns and newsroom-wide discussions, all held via Zoom.
Of course, there are some situations when everyone says, “This would be so much easier if we were in the newsroom.” Along with that, I’ve heard many times that there is nothing like being together, especially during breaking news, where you can learn from simply overhearing conversations about sourcing, verification and ethics. Phone calls, Zoom meetings and Slack messages can help to replicate that, but not entirely.
Washington’s primary elections earlier this month were a case in point. Listening to reporters and editors discuss our fast-paced, deadline-focused, post-ballot counting coverage in a Slack channel was more like what I had expected.
I’m a mostly self-taught copy editor. During my time at the University of Washington, I was unable to take any editing courses. However, I served as secretary of First Nations at UW, an organization for Native American and Alaska Native students. In that role, I created a weekly newsletter that served as an email bulletin board for our organization’s members and the wider campus and Native community around the region. In that newsletter, I tried to stick as closely as I could to AP Style with some adjustments that I thought would be beneficial to our community.
During my internship, I’ve had the opportunity to learn valuable skills — like how to use The Times’ content-management systems for both the web and print; how to find wire stories from regional, national and global outlets; the overall workflow from reporting to online publication and print; and a bit about the history of this newspaper, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this summer.
For two of us, our journey to this internship was longer than others. Sylvia Jarrus and I were hired for The Times’ summer 2020 internship. Unfortunately, the program was canceled last spring in light of the rapidly escalating COVID-19 pandemic. I was devastated, as I’m sure the other incoming interns were. According to Glassdoor, a job listing and review site, over half of internship job openings in the United States were canceled by the end of April 2020.
Journalism is an ever-changing profession and the pandemic has shifted it once again. We now know that reporting and producing a newspaper is possible from home — the printing press and its crew not withstanding — and the tools we use for remote work will almost certainly be valuable in our careers for many years to come, even after the pandemic ends.
It’s no secret that jobs in journalism are more difficult to come by than they once were, but the pandemic and our experiences with job offer cancellations, online classes, online graduations and an online internship have compelled us to be more resilient than ever.
In terms of what’s next for this year’s intern cohort, several of us will be extending our time at The Times and transitioning into temporary positions, while others will be returning to school or moving on to other opportunities.
Although we’ve been working mostly remote, most interns have had the chance to meet in-person a few times for dinner or a baseball game. Some of the other interns are new to Seattle, and pandemic or not, they’ve had chances to explore the city.
The adventures in and out of the newsroom have helped create our distinctive, entirely remarkable summer internships at The Seattle Times.