Lessons learned from my internship at Yahoo!

22 07 2010

Almost as soon as I landed in Australia, I was lucky enough to snag an internship as political news intern at Yahoo!7, Australia’s top internet, television and print media company.

One of the many lounge areas of Yahoo! where I interned.

With a federal election coming full swing, I was pushed into the deep end of Aussie politics and government history. My main duties included researching and sourcing online galleries and story ideas, and working with news assets through Yahoo!’s content management system for their online exclusive campaign package.

As I did with my previous internship, I wrote the most important things I learned from my experience. Below are three from working at Yahoo!7:

  1. I love and miss the process and intricacies of reporting. Sifting through bureaucratic reports, obtaining public documents, interviewing, shoe-leather reporting, researching, multimodal reporting and the list goes on. Although my work involved journalistic qualities, working for an information technology, product and services company was not that same as working for an intrinsically news-oriented organization. Since news content from places like Google and Yahoo! rely on wire services, I worked more with managing news content than producing it. While it allowed me an opportunity to critically analyze more of the theoretical aspects of news dissemination in online platforms, I realized just how much I missed good ol’ shoe leather reporting. I’ve come to realize it’s the interaction, involvement and intimacy related to reportage that I love the most about journalism.
  2. News companies can learn a thing or two from Yahoo and Google. News companies and publishers might hate aggregators like Google, but after working for an internet information company, there are some gems the news industry, who’s shaky internet economy is causing financial strain, can take away. Unlike what many people think, Yahoo! and Google are two very different companies. Mashable Co-Editor, Ben Parr, likens Yahoo! to be a content-driven company while Google focuses on technology. For news companies, it wouldn’t hurt to take a case study of Yahoo! and  learn more about how useful services and engaging content can drive eyeballs to their site (most national news companies understand this, but many smaller to midsize companies are floundering here). News companies could also benefit from Google’s experimental ethos in creating innovative technology and tools that benefit users.
  3. As an intern, you work for your company, but your company should also work for you.  Yes, you’re the fresh-faced, wide-eyed eager intern responsible for duties your boss hands to you, but he/she is also responsible to make sure you get the best experience possible (I’m not talking about lame stuff like your boss assigning you coffee runs). I’m still learning how to be more assertive when it comes to making sure my experience is holistic and rewarding as I can make it. For example, because I was handed a list of tasks to be completed by my last day as soon as I started, I felt I would inconvenience them if I asked to reach out and have experience opportunities. I would have loved to have shadowed with their Seven Media Group partnership, one of Australia’s top network news companies, to see what TV journalism is like outside the states, but in the end, I was to afraid to ask. Simply put, it never hurts to ask.
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