So, after months of slap dash planning due to a very inconvenient but nonetheless celebrated matrimony in the family, I’m finally here in Rome, carving out a small place for myself in the Associated Press Bureau.
I’ve just concluded my second day of training with my new partner in crime and fellow intern. It has been an adjustment in the ways that I probably most need adjusting. By that I mean it’s a crash course in administrative support for an office filled at any given time with four or five busy reporters.
These organizational tasks really do help the reporters report, so they are to be taken seriously. However, because so many of the tasks are short and sweet and numerous, the fear of mis-stepping can be overwhelming. Lucky for me, I’ve been able to play through it with the other intern and have had very friendly email correspondence so far with the other intern (three total) so nothing seems so bad while I have such support.
Ok, so the only task I’m really familiar with that I’ll be asked to perform is fact checking. Thank goodness for all that damn fact-checking I did in my other internships. Slight hitch in the fact checking modus operandi; we’re supposed to more or less get permission before making phone calls to get information. I was reproached for making an unsanctioned phone call on my first day!
This could be problematic since it runs counter to my training thus far. Hell, I used to get yelled at if I didn’t haul ass to the phone and start milling out the info. So like I said, I’m readjusting. My trainer and fellow intern, Chiara, said it best when she said that it’s like walking a fine line between being proactive and adhering to the bounds of propriety.
This is most evident in the intern handbook, unceremoniously dubbed “the bible.” There are many rules and duties listed that seem to coalesce in one message; follow the rules and you can stay in the game. I’ve been so encouraged in the past to work outside the box and now I gotta worry about staying in line.
To be fair, I’ve never worked or interned for an agency with such notoriety, so I’m sure that protocol is a graver thing here. After all, you don’t get to be the AP by having a flawed system.
The Italian thing is a bit of a jolt, simply because getting direct quotes is hard enough in English sometimes that putting it into another language can also be super intimidating. Alas, accuracy is the thing, so even if I have to get these sources to morris code-out their phrases for total understanding, that’s what I’ll do. Such is the way of an American journalist in another country, even if one such journalist has adequate Italian skills.
So, tomorrow I’m taking point and Chiara is serving as back up so that I can feel out the experience of doing all the duties myself, as will be the case Tuesday.
I just hope I can ingratiate everyone enough to be patient with me. Either way, ne’er shall the news suffer on my watch! Or at the very least, ne’er shall suffer an adequate supply of pens, paper, ink, recorders, newspaper, tapings… well, you get the idea.