Copy Editor Intern at The Columbus Dispatch
When Holly Zachariah, the internship coordinator for the Columbus Dispatch, called me to tell me the Dispatch was going to extend an internship offer to me, I couldn’t have said yes fast enough.
She seemed surprised. There was no second thought. No hesitation. This was what I wanted to do in the summer of 2018.
I hung up the phone, however, and immediately a million questions raced into my mind. Was I really ready for this? Why was I chosen? Would this, a copy-editing position, be taking me too far away from my desired career path as a sports journalist?
As I reflect back on all these questions with just five days remaining in my tenure with the Dispatch as a copy editor, I think all but one of those has been answered. I felt ready for the job and I feel I did well in the position. It did not take me too far away from my path as a sports journalist. In fact, it made me a more well-rounded journalist.
The internship began with specific instructions for everything. I would walk into work, sit at my desk and wait to be told what stories to edit and what pages to review. It did not take long, however, for the expectation from my bosses — Danny Goodwin and Brenda Jackson — to change. They began to expect I’d know exactly what to do, when to do it and how to do it as soon as I walked into the office.
It didn’t take long for me to get to that position.
Once I learned how to use the system and view instructions myself without having someone tell them to me, it became easy. With the newspaper's budget, I could view the stories that needed to be edited and how long the story could be and what size headline I needed to put on it. I also could tell if there was an accompanying photo, and if so, what kind of cutline it would need.
The work wasn’t necessarily super complex, but the importance was impressed upon me from the beginning. Though I watched my fellow interns have stories published on the front page, I understood my job was to make sure those stories were as clean as possible. And that the headlines put on them drew the reader into the story and the cutlines were a perfect fit. As the last step before publication, my job was imperative to making sure the printed product of the Dispatch came out as clean as possible.
Editing the stories kept me informed on local, national and international news like I had never been before. It also helped me become a better writer. I’ve always been told the best way to improve your own writing is to read that of others. Having read work from the many talented reporters at the Dispatch, I am a much better writer.
The learning experience did not stop with the day-to-day work, however. Holly hosted intern luncheons every Wednesday where the interns listened to Dispatch experts talk about everything from public records to photography to how to go from an internship to a job.
The mentors I’ve had at the Dispatch have been invaluable to me. Holly has been an incredible mentor and “mama bear” for all us interns. Any time we needed to talk about something going on, or advice for our work or life, she was there. Danny, Brenda and all of the other copy editors provided constant feedback and were always there for any assistance or advice I might need.
And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rest of the interns. It was an incredible group of people to work alongside. I felt I was always learning more from each one of the very talented journalists who joined me in this adventure.
I can’t recommend this internship enough. I learned so much about journalism from many angles I did not anticipate when I first signed on. I thought I might learn about how to become a better editor. And I did. But I also learned how to be a better journalist.
Oh, and that one question I still have unanswered: Why was I chosen? I might never know the answer. I might not ever want to know the answer. The only thing I know is, I’m glad I was.