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Scripps College interns gain experience in top television markets

Published: July 20, 2022 Author: Rory Ball

Three journalism majors from Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication moved to major television markets across the U.S. this summer to intern at NBC stations.

Lexi Lepof is building on her experience in the WOUB newsroom in Athens as an intern at WNBC in New York City. Emma Dollenmayer, a writer and ‘The Beat’ section editor for The Post, is in Los Angeles at NBCLA. Madison Moore, an assistant producer, anchor and news reporter at WOUB, is in Miami at NBC6 South Florida.

The three students answered questions about their experience in top markets and how their work is shaping them to be better journalists. 

Last week, I pitched my first story idea. Although it was nerve-wracking, having confidence helped me sell my pitch." - Emma Dollenmayer

Emma Dollenmayer
Emma Dollenmayer stands in front of the desk at NBC4 Los Angeles in Universal City Plaza.
Q: How have your journalistic skills strengthened throughout your internship? 

Lepof: I have been able to strengthen my skills in many different areas because my team has given me the flexibility to work in different roles within our department. Being in the number one market has given me the opportunity to work closely with the best of the best. I have been able to collaborate with reporters (Lauren Scala, Joelle Garguilo, Michelle Park…etc.)  to understand the work and thought process that goes into in-depth packages which has strengthened my storytelling abilities. I have worked with producers to enhance my writing and understanding of how to best build a show. I have worked with field producers which has helped me look at ideas in a unique lens to find the best way to tell and structure stories. Most importantly, I feel that experiencing and understanding all these roles has helped me be better at my job and better communicate and understand my team. 

Dollenmayer: Before beginning my internship at KNBC, I had no broadcast experience. All my journalism skills came from my digital/print experience with The Post at Ohio University and my internship at Cleveland Magazine. Now in addition to being well-versed digitally, I also have added so many skills to my resume such as script writing, reporting, producing, editing, etc. Without NBC, I would have never gained broadcast journalism experience before entering the workforce.

Moore: My boss handed me my own camera equipment on the first day of my internship with NBC6 South Florida, which offered me a lot of freedom to go out and shoot whatever I wanted. The second week found me going out in the field three times a week with reporters, observing them while jotting down notes on their standups and live shots, their writing pace, and their interviewing techniques. Soon after, I started recording my own standups and crafting their story in my own way, utilizing the photographer's video and building my own packages. To help me get used to the day's turnarounds, I was encouraged to aim to finish my package before the reporters' deadline (which I did). The timeliness of my reporting has improved as a result of this internship. Due to this internship, my attitude on deadlines has entirely changed. I have always had trouble with them. My ability for telling stories has also improved. I've gone out in the field with ten different reporters so far, and I've learned so much from each of them, including how to analyze a story and effectively communicate its point to viewers. NBC6 Weekday anchor, Roxanne Vargas, told me I should always, “marinate in the story. If the viewers don’t care, it means you don’t care.” And every time I go out on a story, I think of that.

One day, I hope to be a news anchor, so when I experienced that adrenaline rush, I knew I was in the right place!" - Madison Moore

Madison Moore
Madison Moore completes a standup at the beach in sunny South Florida.
Q: What big projects have you been a part of creating? What is being part of the production process like? 

Lepof: It is so exciting to be a part of the production process in such a fast-paced newsroom environment. It has been amazing to put in the work on a project then see it used in a show that reaches such a large audience. I have been able to produce live in-studio segments for our show’s guests. This involves writing scripts and questions, pulling video and pictures for the segment, and coordinating with the guest’s PR team. I also work with reporters in the field to create packages. In the field, I have gotten to meet so many amazing and unique New Yorkers and visit the coolest restaurants and venues. 

Dollenmayer: Last week, I pitched my first story idea. Although it was nerve-wracking, having confidence helped me sell my pitch. My executive producer, Val Gratias, loved the idea and pursued it. Now, this week, we will send a reporter to the story I came up with, where I will tag along, do practice live shots, and create my own package to showcase.

Moore: Since I am a Multimedia Journalist intern, I do not work much on the production side of things. I am usually out in the field with reporters or editing my packages at the station. However, when I was undergoing anchor training, I had the chance to rewrite a few "6 in the Mix" entertainment stories. I quickly became accustomed to the NBC6 production software and found it easy to navigate. Once my stories were finished, I read them on the teleprompter while a producer recorded, so therefore I could use it for my demo reel. It was a surreal moment being in the studio and at the desk. One day, I hope to be a news anchor, so when I experienced that adrenaline rush, I knew I was in the right place!

Q: What is something that was unexpected and/or industry exclusive that you didn’t learn in a classroom but on the ground?

Lepof: Luckily, my experience at WOUB has prepared me for what it is like to be in-studio and in the mix of producing a live show. It has been extremely exciting to see this process at a faster pace and much larger scale at WNBC. My internship has allowed me to take the skills I have learned in the classroom and at WOUB and strengthen and build upon them. 

Dollenmayer: I have learned you can’t plan for breaking news. You can’t teach it in a classroom. You can only understand how you will respond to covering breaking news when it is happening. Watching how the newsroom responds in that case scenario has been incredibly insightful.

Moore: This might sound funny, but I didn’t realize reporters spend more than half of their time in the car editing and writing before they go live in their slots. They basically live in their cars! I found that unexpected at first because going in I didn’t really know what the process was like until I witnessed it! Another unexpected thing I learned is that not all tv anchors/hosts have degrees in journalism; some of them started out as production assistants or at the front desk! Before starting my internship, I thought that in order to be an anchor, you needed some experience in reporting. However, this is not the case.

Cool things are always happening at 30 Rock, and it is amazing to be able to be here for all of it!" - Lexi Lepof

Lexi Lepof and Camille Kostek
Lexi Lepof stands with Camille Kostek, host of NBC’s "Dancing With Myself," model and actress.
Q: What is your most memorable/coolest experience so far? 

Lepof: It is hard to pick just one! During my second week as an intern, I got to produce a segment for Sports Illustrated cover model Camille Kostek. When our producers told her I was an intern and that it was my first time producing a segment for the show, she was very encouraging and lovely to work with. She posted a picture of us together and the segment on her Instagram afterwards! Another cool thing I got to do was interview to be in a Jimmy Fallon segment with YouTuber Emma Chamberlain. I also got to hangout on Rockefeller plaza with Steve Carell and the TODAY anchors. There are always big names roaming the halls. I casually ran into Ben Stiller in the lobby and once Lester Holt in the cafeteria. Cool things are always happening at 30 Rock, and it is amazing to be able to be here for all of it! 

Dollenmayer: My coolest experience has easily been getting to cover the opening of a new rollercoaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, with reporter Jonathan Gonzalez. Jonathan and I got to ride the coaster twice together, both which aired on Today in LA. Jonathan then brought me in his live shot for his midday hit, which meant so much to me. He coached me through doing practice live shots and gave me the confidence to believe I one day too could be a reporter with enough practice and dedication.

Moore: One of my most memorable experiences to date was watching the Surfside coverage of the Champlain Towers South's one-year anniversary memorial service in Surfside, Florida. First Lady Jill Biden spoke at the event. For the producers, I shot b-roll of the families entering and exiting the memorial, and I even got to do a standup in front of the Surfside memorial banner for my demo reel. I also witnessed multiple anchors go live at the event and interview public figures and family members of victims who were killed in the tower collapse.