University of Southern California

Student Life Blog

A Day in the Life of an L.A. Times Intern

Isabella Sayyah is a Junior, double majoring in Broadcast and Digital Journalism & International Relations

By Isabella Sayyah Friday, June 27, 2014

As the excitement of my birthday, Fathers’ Day and graduation for both my sister and brother (middle school and college, respectively) fades away, I’ve slowly gotten settled into a routine. As great as it was to have so many celebrations, the last two weeks since coming home from Israel have been a little exhausting. Now that it’s my third week interning, I also feel like I’ve gotten the hang of it. Since I haven’t really talked much about it beyond my first day, I thought I’d share a little bit about what I do.

I’m a web intern at the L.A. Times, working specifically with the features team. Because web people are needed everywhere, there’s not exactly one web department. Instead, every department has web people within it. This can be a lot of fun, because I get to work with features (I spend a lot of time looking at mouthwatering photos of food), but it is also a little strange because I don’t actually work with any of the web interns.

For features, I mostly produce stories from the web. Since my parents gave me a blank look when I told them that, here’s a quick summary: When a writer writes a story, they pretty much provide the text. Photographers provide the photos to go along with it, editors do their thing, and some designers – I don’t know where – somehow put that onto a newspaper page.

One of my blog posts for the LA Times' Southern California Moments blog.

One of my blog posts for the LA Times’ Southern California Moments blog.

For the Internet, things are a little different though. Instead of one or two photos, there can be whole galleries with longer captions. Related stories can be put on a page along with “sharelines” for people to post on social media. Putting all this together so stories are ready to go online is one of my main jobs. There are also other fun things I get to do. Right now I’m working on a longer-term project the Travel section is doing on California’s missions, and this week I’m also choosing and posting a reader photo of the day for the SoCal Moments blog (check it out here).

Other things are a little different. Because my internship is through USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, I also am working with the politics web team. Right now, my main job is to comb through campaign contributions for the upcoming L.A. County elections and categorize them. Later, whoever ends up writing the story will go through and do some analysis on who’s giving to whom. It’s pretty interesting to see who donates, and I like to speculate as I’m going through. A lot of famous actors seem to be supporting Bobby Shriver, while real estate and financial agencies are a constant presence. Also, I’ve spotted a few graveyards and mortuaries. Still working on figuring that one out.

Overall I like my job a lot. As a journalism student, I’m constantly being told that print is dying and everything is going online, but so far I had yet to get that much experience with digital journalism. This summer has already been the perfect introduction to incorporating multimedia elements in stories, learning how to work with raw data and even a little bit of html. Considering it’s been less than three weeks, I’m sure by the end of the summer I’ll be a pro.

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