Station Interns on the Future of Local TV News

By Mark Joyella Comment

control roomYou may think of them as little more than the kids in the summer who answer phones on the desk, but the truth is this: interns are the future of the business. Joyce Terhaar, executive editor of the Sacramento Bee, wrote a fascinating piece Sunday: “A glimpse at the future of journalism through the eyes of interns.” Terhaar interviewed the Bee‘s fifteen summer interns, and among other tidbits discovered just one of them actually prefers to get her news in the form of a printed newspaper.

Many said one of their primary forms of news is their Facebook newsfeed. But the Bee‘s interns were not pondering a career change in the face of massive industry change. “Our interns are entering a profession that is reinventing itself, not just in how it distributes news and information but in how it pays for that journalism. That uncertainty doesn’t seem to frighten any of them. They think journalism is here to stay.”

So it seemed wise to ask our local TV interns the same questions.

Michelle Alfini is an intern at WXII in Winston-Salem.”When I’m home and in possession of a TV I usually watch the 6:00 and 11:00 news on one of the local news channels, either WJZ or WBAL but when I’m at school and share a TV with my roommates I watch local TV news less frequently.” When news breaks, she says she usually hears about it on Twitter or Facebook, and then turns on the TV. (Links, kids, matter a lot. For more on that, try this.)

Danielle Hendrix is a student at the University of Central Florida and interns at WESH in Orlando. Her primary news source is Twitter, and she says you won’t find many UCF students gathering around a TV at 6 or 11–at least, not to watch local news. “No one that I know of really ever consistently tunes into local TV news, unless something of a large scale is happening in the area. I think most of us do get our news from social media.”

Most of the TV interns insist journalism’s alive and well, and TV news remains a perfect place to launch a career. But unlike years past, interns like Ole Miss student Gabriel Austin don’t necessarily envy the career paths of local TV reporters:

I do think local tv is a good place to start. I don’t really see any other way to get experience to build my career on. I think it’s the only option, unless you get a break via the internet and gathering followers of your own personal website or channel. I’m not too sure about the possibilities of upward mobility however, it seems that even a very good, experienced reporter might stop at certain points, and I’m not sure why. That’s my only worry, are they choosing to stay? Or are they getting stuck in smaller markets once they move up once or twice.

What are your interns telling you? Have you asked?