Assurance at an unsure time

After applying to countless internships over the school year without any luck, I finally found a sense of relief after I woke up to an early morning phone call...

After applying to countless internships over the school year without any luck, I finally found a sense of relief after I woke up to an early morning phone call offering me a summer sports internship at amNewYork, a free daily newspaper in Manhattan.

Prior to my internship, my story in Backdrop magazine’s spring issue from my freshman year was the only time I ever had an article published in print; the rest of my previous writing clips came online. I left amNewYork with about 40 stories in the newspaper.

I realized my first day in the office that I would be acting as a regular contributor to the sports section — which on most days included just the sports editor and me.

I worked hand-in-hand with the sports editor, who was a great mentor to me throughout the summer. As a suburban NYC native, I wasn’t a complete stranger to the city, but this was my first time routinely exploring it on my own.

amNewYork is a relatively small paper in terms of length. The goal is to have most New Yorkers be able to read it from cover to cover by the time their subway commute is over.

Early in my internship, I was mostly assigned the simple task of rewriting international news stories such as the French Open and other various sporting news. My responsibility progressed to mainly writing previews and features on New York City FC and the New York Liberty and occasionally the New York Mets.

I really felt like an actual sports reporter during this internship. I was tasked with generating my own story ideas, writing them and going out into the field to interview athletes at practices and media events.

This internship benefited me as a writer in so many ways. More than anything, however, it has given me a boost of confidence in my writing abilities and assurance that I am in the right business for myself right now.

I was able to experiment with my writing and wrote more frequently then ever before. The sports editor was always there to critique my work and made clear what my strengths and weakness are as a writer. Writing was always something I’ve done leisurely, so I struggled initially adjusting to the pace of the newsroom and the expected delivery time for articles.

Since I typically went into the amNewYork office three days a week, I took up another internship with a minor league baseball team near my hometown. This was a public relations position and my experience there pales in comparison to that of amNewYork. The two experiences made me realize that being a journalist is much more fulfilling for me than working in PR.

As a journalist, nothing is more important than reporting the truth and acting as an educator to the public. I really appreciate that commitment, so I was disappointed to see that aspect frequently absent in the world of public relations. When you’re trying to sell a product, the truth sometimes takes a backseat to maximizing ticket sales.

The business side of the game stung me a little more considering I grew up as a sports fan that only cared about the play on the field. In my innocent mind, the nature of sports appears so pure and incorruptible, but when there is money involved things become a bit murkier. I love to write, talk, analyze and watch sports – not sell sports, meaning a career in journalism surely suits me better than public relations.

My internship with amNewYork was really a dream come true. Whether I was walking in Manhattan or taking the subway, I would see New Yorkers reading the paper, which was always a surreal feeling.

Arguably the most memorable experience from my time with amNewYork came the day I had the privilege of interviewing New York Jets star cornerback Darrelle Revis. He was the biggest name I scored an interview with during my internship, but the interview was actually memorable for all the wrong reasons.

It was early in the summer and this was the first time I was asked to interview someone. Our email exchange with Revis’s PR people led us to believe that I would have one-on-one time with him. It would take place in a secluded room inside a Whole Foods in Lower Manhattan, where Revis was promoting his new energy drink. His camp made it clear to us that I would be able to ask him questions about football and the upcoming season, so long as I also asked some questions about his new product. We happily complied with that perceived scenario, but that’s not how it went down when I arrived at Whole Foods.

I showed up extremely nervous with questions prepared on my notepad and still in disbelief of what’s about to happen. Upon my arrival, a delightful PR woman guided me to where the interview would take place upstairs. She reminded me to ask football questions only after talking about the drink he’s promoting and his meet and greet with fans, which was fine with me.

Right before I made my way into the interview room, I’m introduced to the CEO of the company who clearly lacked communication with Revis’ PR group as he tells me I can only ask questions about his energy drink. I entered the room with my heart pounding and my brain in a fluster after the bombshell news dropped on me.

I sat down across from Revis, who’s sporting a green shirt decorated with his drink’s logo just like the rest of his posse and the companies’ representatives.

I was thinking there’s no story here if I can’t ask any football questions, but still tried to make the best of it. There were a bunch of flashing cameras and videographers in the room, which only made me more nervous. I wasn’t expecting to be watched so intensely.

Revis was a nice guy and did his best to answer my hard-hitting questions such as ‘What’s your favorite flavor of the drink?’ (of course, he didn’t have one and enjoyed ‘all of them’). When I grew tired of asking BS questions I attempted to indirectly ask him something about the upcoming season and being back in New York, but the CEO quickly interrupted his response by blurting “What does that have to do with Steaz? (his energy drink).” Some laughs from the audience ensued and even a chuckle from Revis because everyone realized how much of an unfortunate joke the situation was.

The aforementioned PR women apologized to me after my short interview and sympathized for the miscommunication, but for me it was just another cringe-worthy glimpse into the public relations game.

Shortly after leaving Whole Foods to make my way back to my midtown office building, I realized the recording on my iPhone didn’t save (or I never actually tapped the record button which is definitely possible because it felt like my body was shaking from nerves at the beginning). Either way, if there was ever a time for me to have this type of mishap it was right then and there because none of the quotes I got belonged in a story in the sports section of a newspaper.

The whole ordeal was truly a learning experience and I definitely became more comfortable conducting interviews as the summer went on. Luckily, I never encountered another problem with businesses completely dictating my questions.

My internships this summer really made me confident in my pursuit of a career as a sports journalist. It was nice to receive that type of reassurance at a time where students hear a lot about the uncertainty regarding the future of the field.

Exhibit AThe DropVoices
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