Loved the Newsroom Experience, but Not the Crazy Owner


Published: April 3, 2008

I have never been 100 percent sure about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but writing has been something I’ve always loved. I remember times I would get up in the middle of the night and rush to my desk to write stories that I thought up in my dreams. Besides writing creatively, writing news was something I fell in love with after experimenting with my high school paper. After graduating, I sent a few of my articles to a small paper in Rockland County called The Rockland County Times. A friend of mine who had interned there before asked if I was interested in interning at the paper since they were looking for young, new writers. I had never sent my pieces to a legitimate paper before and was a bit nervous about their feedback, but the following week, the editor in chief e-mailed me asking if I would be interested in starting an internship with them. Thrilled, I quickly responded, “Oh…My…God, yes!!”

I started writing for the paper immediately. Because I was an intern, I was able to write for different sections of the paper, though I primarily wrote for the news and feature sections. They sent me to the County Legislature meetings, a job no one at the paper wanted, probably because they were long and boring. The meetings covered things like the county’s budget, repaving roads and adding new telephone poles throughout the county—but there were interesting topics now and then. Once this woman came in with a Bible and began quoting passages, claiming that God told her he was against Planned Parenthood. During a different meeting, a local pound’s faculty came to support their facility, which was being penalized for leaving the animals inside while they painted the building. The group, who wore shirts and buttons supporting their pound, ended up causing a riot and were removed by courthouse security.

When the editor finally let me spend more time in the office, I was able to meet and talk to everyone and even listen to the office gossip. My favorite day was deadline day, because it was the most exciting, not to mention the most hectic. It was the day that everyone was running around and yelling at each other; all the interns were finishing up their stories, timelines (which were small summaries of other news in the County) or police beats. The paper made all of the interns type these, which took a lot of time, seeing as there were a lot of summaries and some were rather lengthy.

One negative part of my experience as an intern was dealing with the owner of the paper. He was very involved, very old and equally senile. He would walk around the office pestering the writers, always asking, “Yeah, but are you doing this?” and “Who told you to do that?” He never gave the editor a chance to do her job. The owner would also tell the staff he wanted to go in one direction for a piece and then the next day yell at them about how he hated the idea because he forgot what he told them. He was very cheap, conservative and never considered anyone’s ideas on how to better advertise the paper. His contribution to the paper involved a small opinion piece strung together from memories from his past way back when. The “musings,” as he liked to call them, were very offensive and drew in a lot of hate mail from readers pleading the editor in chief to have him committed.

Overall, I would give my internship two cups of coffee. Besides the owner, my experience as a Rockland County Times intern was very enjoyable. I loved how I was able to do what the staff writers of the paper were doing, and even though I started off with boring topics, I had my own byline, gained some experience and got to be a part of the newsroom.