Posted by: mindyrappoport | 07/18/2011

Internship lessons

I can’t believe it, but last Thursday I published my last cuisine article in the Boulder Weekly. The article focuses on the food truck trend that’s catching on in Boulder and the ordinance the City of Boulder passed in May which restricts where mobile food vendors can sell food.

I learned a few lessons in journalism as a result of writing this article:

  1. Sometimes it’s better to meet with a source in person than talking to them on the phone. As a reporter, most of the time I’m in such a rush to meet deadline that I don’t have time to do interviews for stories in person. But last week, when a source told me via email that they would feel more comfortable meeting in person because their accent was hard to understand over the phone, I met with them at a local coffee shop on my off-day from my internship. Even though a majority of my off-day was spent interviewing this source and another one, I’m glad they made time to meet with me and that I was able to sit down with them; I gained a lot of valuable information that really helped develop my story.
  2. When you’ve done all the research you can and can’t find the information you need, make the call to get it. I’m a pretty thorough researcher, and normally I have no trouble finding statistics and reports online. However, for this story, I spent several days digging for an ordinance that the City of Boulder passed in May allowing food trucks to sell food at different locations around town. In the end, I had to ask one of my sources to email me the ordinance, which was nowhere to be found online, including the City of Boulder website. I’m glad I found the information, though, because it was crucial; one part of the ordinance is currently being petitioned by food truck owners.
  3. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas with your editors. As an intern, sometimes it’s intimidating to share your story ideas with others in your office. Even though I had quite a bit of reporting and editing experience writing stories for the CU Independent, I was so nervous to contribute ideas when I started out at the Boulder Weekly. But last week, another intern, Sarah Simmons, and I were discussing a possible story idea when our editor walked up. We explained the angle to her and I was surprised but pleased when she agreed that it was definitely something the Weekly should cover. It just goes to show you that as an intern, the best thing you can do is speak up.

This week, I’m working on a different story for the Weekly, and even though my last official day on the office will be this Thursday, I’m still going to write two more stories for future editions. Check back later this week to read about this week’s story!

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