First Week Adventures At WNDU

Being an intern is one of the best jobs in the world. You’re not quite an employee so there’s room to make mistakes and even though you aren’t paid, I think all the knowledge you gain is payment enough. As my first week of being an intern at WNDU in South Bend, Ind. comes to an end, I can definitely say I will never doubt the value of an internship.

My first day I was thrown into the swing of things by being given a vosot to do. A town near South Bend was holding a groundbreaking ceremony for a new building for their elementary school. At the ceremony I met a number of interesting people and by talking with them I got a good sense of what their community was like. Residents there are very close knit, mostly because they had lived there almost their entire lives. Most had even graduated high school with each other. The few I talked to had graduated the opposing schools in the community in 1955 and 1956, but they still remembered competing each other in sports. They shared with me many memories of their high school career and what the building was like during their time there. The forth grade girl I spoke with said her parents graduated the high school as well. She was super excited to be getting a new facility because “I think we should have newer stuff than what they used.” Each of the people I spoke with was just a simple reminder that everyone does have their own story.

Click here to read “Ground broken on Sam Adams expansion in Cassopolis.”

Once back at the station and after writing the vosot I headed to the editing bays where the photogs hang out. Only a few of the reporters at WNDU are backpack journalists and even then they don’t always have to go out on their own. As an intern I go along with a photographer on my vosots as well. Because of this reason I feel it’s important for any reporter to get to know the photographers well. Good communication can only lead to a good story. I love the fact of having someone else to bounce ideas off of as well.

When 4:30 rolled around I asked to go out on the nightside assignment. Residents on the West Side of South Bend have been dealing with street construction since January, but it’s not just any ordinary construction. The streets are completely torn up… cones set up over giant manholes, driveways replaced by dirt, potholes everywhere, no space for vehicles to navigate their way around, and finally nowhere for rain water to drain; although the reason for the project is to create a combined sewer system. The streets even reminded me of a dirt bike racetrack. I could definitely see why the residents were not happy. We spoke with one woman who made for a great CCC because she was good at expressing emotion.

I sat in with the reporter as he wrote the story. I feel by doing this I can take different reporter’s techniques to try and figure out my own. I also feel sitting in and watching how they put together their story will help me with my writing.

Click here to read “Construction complaints on South Bend’s West Side.”

After my two shift Tuesday, I decided Wednesday and Thursday’s I would work nightside shifts so I would be able to shadow reporters. Of course meetings are pretty prevalent on weeknights so on Wednesday night I went along with a reporter on a story about a street expansion. This story meant a little bit of door-to-door knocking which I love… well on stories where people aren’t cursing you out of their neighborhood. We talked to a few interesting people and even found a woman walking around outside her home looking to see where the county had placed the stakes for the expansion to take place. We had a few people decline to talking on camera, but they still gave us some great information. At the meeting on the expansion we grabbed some facts, video and interviews and then headed back to the station.

Click here to read “Granger residents voice concern over Gumwood expansion.”

At the end of the night, while I was hanging around waiting for something to do, reports of a standoff came across the scanner. I’ve never seen one of these before, of course how many people really have, so I rushed to ask the photog if I could come along. When we got there the police were set up with their bullhorns and shields, lights blazing on the house. They were asking the man inside to put down his weapon and come out of the house. The SWAT team showed up and geared up to get ready to go inside. After about an hour we heard the popping noises of teargas canisters opening, and then watched as the police threw them inside them home. When no one came out the photog and I began wondering if there really was anyone in there. All around us neighbors had started to gather, including one family who had been told to leave their home by the police to ensure their safety. I felt bad because they looked really cold in their pajamas. These neighbors started telling us their crazy version of what had happened earlier in the day that led to the standoff. Apparently it started when the man got home and started choking his fiancé. When she ran outside and told some neighbors, he came out with a sawed-off shotgun and pointed it at the neighbors. When he saw police arriving he ran back inside in the home. This started the standoff. After a few hours of being there the police finally brought the man outside of the home and arrested him.

Click here to read “One in custody after Wednesday night stand-off in South Bend.”

Thursday proved to be just as exciting as Wednesday. Since the police department wasn’t providing us with information on Wednesday night’s standoff, I drove with a reporter to the police dept to have the police report read to us. While there we were tipped off on a police chase going on in Elkhart County. After grabbing gear from the station we headed to the scene where the police chase had ended. What we saw was debris scattered across the road, a completely smashed up car and police car, and fireman trying to pull debris out of the trees. The car involved in the chase had been stolen and after leading the police on an 80 mph chase across two counties, the man finally ended up crashing. He had tried to avoid a police car and stop sticks, but ended up smashing into another cop car. The stolen car split into two. The rear axles and the gasoline tank flew into the trees of someone’s yard. The rest of the car spun out about 100 feet away from there. Somehow the driver of the car wasn’t seriously injured and thankfully the policeman whose car had been hit wasn’t hurt either because he had gotten out to set up the stop sticks.

Click here to read “Accident splits car in two pieces after police chase down bypass.”

After this we did a little speeding of our own to get to the next story an hour from the accident scene. The Elkart County Young Republicans were holding a question and answer session for the fifteen Republican candidates running for Indiana’s third district seat previously held by Congressman Mark Souder. This was a very video light story and we only had time to conduct one interview, so I was curious how the reporter would cover the story. Also in a story such as this, where there are so many facts and people, I was watchful in what information he decided to use. I feel the more I tag along on meetings and events like this, the more I will learn how to cover them easily.

Click here to read “Republicans face-off for chance at Souder’s seat.”

Once I got back to the station I helped write a VOSOT so the producer could focus on the rest of her newscast.

Click here to read “Local kids learn soccer moves on eve of World Cup.”

Friday was a light day compared to the rest of my week. When I got to the station I was sent out on a vosot. South Bend holds free concerts in a downtown plaza every summer. Local bands take the stage and vendors line the plaza in the event called “Fridays by the Fountain.” I talked to a few people and finally interviewed this girl who lived with her grandma during the summertime and comes to every concert. As any event it was a pretty simple thing to cover.

Click here to read “Fridays by the Fountain begins 10th year of music in South Bend.”

For the rest of the day, up until it was time to shadow the nightside assignment reporter again, I sat in with one of the photogs while he edited a few of his pieces. I’m slowly learning the editing system, but I don’t believe I will be able to really understand it until I get to use it myself. So later that night when I went out on the next story I decided to do my own practice package on it. This way I could practice my storytelling and later learn the editing system. Friday night’s story was about students who had been expelled from public schools and placed into a program called “Fresh Start”. They were having a graduation ceremony from the program as they make their way back into public schools. My practice package for this should be done by next week.

Like always I’m constantly looking for ways to improve. Throughout the duration of this internship I will be focused on developing my own writing style and techniques. I struggle at conversational writing and would like to get much faster at it. By the end of the internship I hope to have found one good story, reported it, have another reporter voice it so it can air…overachieving? I guess we’ll have to see! For now I would like to continue working on putting together stories, reporting in general, learning more about the editing system and ENPS.


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