The Columns

Interns at Work: Leslie Yevak ’17 Fox News Channel, New York, NY

— by on September 5th, 2016

Leslie Yevak '17

“The ‘one-man band’ structure of the beat reporting class gave me an edge in landing this internship because the exposure to all parts of reporting allows me now to help my boss in every type of situation.”

What attracted you to this internship?

After completing an internship the previous summer working for FoxNews.com, I was drawn to re-apply because there was a strong possibility I would get the opportunity to work in production for the second summer, rather than digital, and get a preference on which show I’d like to intern for. Given the great hands-on experience I received working for Fox News Digital, I was excited to work on the production side to get that same experience in an entirely different setting.

How did you learn about it?

I first learned about the internship opportunities available at Fox News on the network’s website, and then contacted a friend who worked for The O’Reilly Factor to find out more. Once I submitted my application, she offered advice for the interview process and helped me get in touch with the intern coordinator.

What gave you an edge in landing this internship?

I’ve gotten a lot of hands-on reporting experience from several different classes in the J school, and also from working as both a staff writer and News Editor for the Ring-Tum Phi. But being the Rockbridge County beat reporter for the Rockbridge Report offered crucial exposure to every step of reporting and producing a news story. I learned to develop reliable relationships with sources, pitch unique yet important story ideas to the producers, conduct both written and on-camera interviews, write concise scripts, and film, cut and edit footage (b-roll) to help create an impactful narrative on-air. The “one-man band” structure of the beat reporting class gave me an edge in landing this internship because the exposure to all parts of reporting allows me now to help my boss in every type of situation.

Describe your daily duties.

I begin a typical day by “reading in” to that day’s big news — usually checking online for relevant business and political updates, and staying on top of global and national news updates coming from the iNews system almost every minute. At around 10:00 I attend a pitch meeting with the Executive Producer, who puts together the show’s rundown for that day before assigning each block, or segment, to an associate producer. The next few hours I spend putting together research packets for each segment — these include crucial articles relevant to the topic, and talking points the anchor must hit during the guest interview. Throughout the afternoon I may help cut footage and put clips together, and update the packets with breaking news as the day goes on. By 3:50 I’m sitting in the control room waiting for the show to go on-air at 4:00.

What are some tasks/projects you’ve been working on?

In addition to pitching original, relevant story ideas to our show’s producer, I spend a lot of my time working on research packets for different blocks of the show — the top of the hour is typically heavy with presidential campaign updates, as well as market updates for that day. But because the show airs daily at 4:00 PM, every day I get the chance to do extensive research on new topics. Eventually the producers give these research packets — with important facts and talking points — to the host of that day’s show so he/she can prepare for the topics they’ll be discussing with other reporters and guests throughout the hour. During just the first week of my internship I did extensive research on the events leading up to Brexit — and ultimately the severe global effects of the Brexit aftermath.

Have any courses and/or professors helped you prepare for this internship? Which ones?

My beat reporting class with Professor Finch has proven extremely beneficial to my internship experiences. Like I mentioned earlier, as the Rockbridge County beat reporter for the Rockbridge Report I learned all the necessary steps in writing and producing news packages for the show. I’ve come to realize the importance of already knowing how to do many of these things. and how that has allowed me to better help the people I’ve worked for. Professor Luecke’s Reporting on the Economy class also really prepared me to work for Neil Cavuto’s show, Your World, which focuses primarily on business and political commentary. In that class I learned how to find the best angle in an economic story, and how best to write that story by interviewing the right people and including the most crucial, relevant points of view. Learning the basics of economic reporting was really important in joining Cavuto’s team at Fox News.

What do you hope to learn by the end of your experience?

At the end of 10 weeks I hope I’ve learned how to best develop a strong and relevant, yet fresh, angle for any news story — and how to deliver that news in an innovative, unique way that differentiates itself from other competitive networks. I think knowing how to effectively, yet creatively, construct and then produce the important content that audiences consume will be crucial for any position I might find myself in in the future.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

I’ve loved getting the chance to work on a live newscast. There’s nothing like sitting in the control room during a show with a well-planned rundown when breaking news comes in, and the producer then must plan every minute of the rest of the show as it happens. People are yelling and making calls, or getting calls from reporters in the field. News broke of the attempted military coup in Turkey halfway through our show, and we were able to release details of the coup minute-by-minute, right as the news came in. This immediacy, and accuracy, is really what it’s all about. The experience made me realize how good these people are at what they do, because the show comes together every single time. It’s stressful, for obvious reasons, but definitely the most exciting part of the internship. But aside from day to day responsibilities — to say it has been “interesting” working in the news industry at the height of the one of the most exciting, yet unconventional, presidential campaign seasons ever would be a grave understatement.

What did you learn from living in the city where the internship was located?

Growing up so close to New York City, I assumed that proximity allowed me to become more familiar with it. But I was so wrong. I learned that I knew next to nothing about New York, because it’s just too big, and there are too many things to keep you busy. But this is the best thing about the city. So I made a bucket list when I moved here of things I knew I wanted to do before my 10 weeks expired, and luckily I’ve been able to cross off a lot of them — like visit certain museums and restaurants, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, visit specific food markets, and bike through both Battery Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

The live show atmosphere taught me how to make my first draft count. When a show airs every day during the week, there really is no time to edit a rough draft or to make big mistakes. You can’t take a night to sleep on it, or put something off for later. I’ve learned that you need to get the job done right the first time, because you have a million other things that need to be done and no time to rewrite your script eight times before it goes on-air. I know this will help me at W&L in the fall as I take the Rockbridge Report producing class.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

Make sure you are willing to help, or get involved, with all the roles of producing a show — pitching ideas, researching, reporting and interviewing, filming b-roll, or cutting video. Knowing how — or at least trying —to do everything inevitably puts you a step ahead of other candidates applying for similar positions who may only be interested in writing, and therefore don’t know how to use a camera or cut video. If you have even a little experience in all of these areas, when you get the internship you’ll always be able to help with something.

Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?

Absolutely. While I am still unsure of what type of news show I’d like to work for — investigative news, breaking news, or commentary — my experiences at Fox News solidified my hope of becoming a producer. The producer’s role proves crucial to any newscast and offers the opportunity to become involved in just about every aspect of reporting news — developing story ideas, researching, interviewing, organizing, and disseminating impactful information to an audience dependent on media outlets.

Describe your experience in a single word.

Invaluable.

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