Interns live exciting lives. Honestly. Some of this excitement comes from the cool stuff we get to work on at NPR. Some of it arises from excursions with other interns on the weekend. And some of it is just the novelty of a new city. Whatever it is, we're showcasing it all here. From D.C. to L.A. and beyond, enjoy.

Talat Mangla, Ko Im  (Blogmasters)

Intern 411

Internship Committee      |       August 7, 2006      |      Permalink

Intern Must-Haves:

The Process:

Acceptance Rate:

Intern Highlights:

Number of Former Interns Who Now Work at NPR:

Source: Barbara Sheppard, human resources professional and co-coordinator of the NPR Internship Program

The Finale

Intern Edition Staff      |       August 7, 2006      |      Permalink

Christina Tran
Blogmaster Ko Im signs off.
As the summer 2006 internship period closes, blogmaster Ko Im gathered the following thoughts on the internship experience:

"The highlight of my internship was getting to write scripts for Performance Today!" -Jamie Hammon

NPR Music Editor Marty Ronish is really impressed with her intern:

"Jamie is an incredible writer. We thought her (Intern Edition) story was so good… and we're making it into a story for Performance Today."

"Not only did I get the opportunity to meet wonderful and talented people, I picked the brains of some of NPR's greats, and used their techniques/words of advice." - Arwa Gunja

Weekend Edition Sunday Senior Supervising Producer Bob Malesky will miss having Arwa around:

"Arwa's intelligence was obvious the first time I spoke with her… I think she did a fabulous job both on WESUN and on Intern Edition."

"NPR opened the first door on Massachusetts Avenue, and I found a lot more to explore. Morning Edition was really supportive of me going around to different parts of the building and shadowing everyone from Ted Clark to David Folkenflik." - Ko Im

Media and Arts Information Unit Correspondent David Folkenflik reflects on a specific mentoring experience:

"I very much valued the chance to get to know Ko - not only to offer what I guidance I could, which I enjoyed, but also to get her perspective! I often found her suggestions very helpful."

"The highlight of my internship is to be able to learn from those who are passionate, not only about journalism but producing quality shows that continue to keep NPR as the credible news organization that it is." - Amanda Nembhard

Morning Edition Supervising/Update Producer Sarah Mobley Smith has confidence in her mentee:

"Amanda was a pleasure to work with. I have no doubt she'll be a successful journalist."

"By the end of the summer I will have worked with three different intern-reporters. It was so much fun!" -Emilia Costa
"So many highlights… but I particularly enjoyed working with people from all over the country (and beyond)." -Daniel Peters

Audience and Corporate Research Supervisor Ann Peters enjoys her interns' varied backgrounds:

"In order to work in our department, a person also must be numerically gifted. She is very talented in (the creative) area as well, and it's been great to have someone in the department that has a "foot in both worlds" so to speak... His prior internships were in engineering and strategic communications, and I can hear his background in radio news in his Intern Edition piece!"

More quotes from interns:

Toyia Baker
Intern Jenee Darden poses with Smokey Robinson
"I must say, meeting Smokey Robinson was really cool"- Jenee Darden

"The highlights of my internship were 1.) seeing India Arie live at TOTN and 2.) successfully putting together the IE event with Meredith." -Jessica Skwir

"I got to witness an impromptu knife fight while working on a story, and it's moments like those that I'll cherish when I think back to my days at NPR." -Jeremy VanderKnyff

"The highlight of my internship was shadowing newscaster Lakshmi Singh. Newscasting is something that has always been a passion of mine and so while I was in the studio, I literally had to pinch myself and remember that this is a reality!" -Rita Garcia

"I feel like I'm really walking away with some invaluable skills - I don't want to leave, it's made me want to work at NPR full-time!"- Maja Cholody

"The highlight for me was meeting other young peers that were as interested in public radio as me." -Nicole Beemsterboer

"I still frequently walk in and have the "my heavens I'm at NPR" moment, and that simply can't be beat."- Nathan Taylor

Radio Expeditions: A Day in the Life

Kira Neel       |       August 2, 2006      |      Permalink

Radio Expedition stories are just like National Geographic articles—except, at NPR, the exquisite photographs are made with sound:

-In-depth pieces on Morning Edition

-Interviews with scientists/conservationists on Day-to-Day When I come into work, I read through about 15 different news sources for information about threatened cultures and environments. We always have a list of topics of interests- stories we are currently working on, or ones that have aired recently.

When I first arrived, we did a story that showed how conservation efforts for rhinoceros in Nepal were limited by the civil war between the government and the Maoist rebels. The latter controlled the forests where the rhinos lived, and wouldn’t allow anti-poaching teams (comprised of people in the military) in. Thus, the rhino population suffered because poachers did come in. When the news is so focused on violence and war, it can be challenging to find information on the subjects of the stories, but they are always there. I have been keeping my eyes open to other ways that war affects conservation. For example, the article in the New York Times yesterday about the effects of the current war on the Lebanese environment.

Radio Expeditions tells great stories from everywhere—under oceans, in caves and rainforests, down rivers or on the tops of mountains. I like to sit in the editing booth while the stories are being mixed. Radio Expeditions uses sonic solutions -- you should hear it for yourself!

Kira Neel is the Radio Expeditions intern and enjoys the sounds of nature on radio.

Sarah Laskow
Music Director and Nordic invader Lars Gotrich

The Music Director's Playlist

Lars Gotrich       |       August 1, 2006      |      Permalink

Lars Gotrich’s Top Five Songs of this Summer:

Song: “Dogwood Rust”
Album: Avatar
Artist: Comets on Fire

The opener to the new Comets on Fire is both an immediate change and an immediate place of recognition for fans of the freak-out masterpiece Blue Cathedral. Bluesy, psychedelic, Hawkwind/Ash Ra Temple guitar riffs don't pummel through, but are in mid strum, and we can now actually hear Ethan Miller's voice sans the aural obliteration of the cavernous echoplex machine. You can tell the band really sat down and wrote "Dogwood Rust" as well as the other tracks.

Song: “Something Isn’t Right”
Album: Scale

One of the most fascinating electronic musicians, known for his lofty concepts (creating albums entirely out of food or body samples, for example), has released his most accessible and dance-ready album yet. The song itself features Herbert on vocal, British as all get-out, with frequent collaborator Dani Siciliano backing. It's almost a straight disco track rich with strings and a drum beat that was probably recorded underwater, but its rhythm is rooted in minimalism.

Song: “Pull Shapes”
Album: Pull Shapes single
Artist: The Pipettes

Don't believe the press release that claims this revival girl-group is out to redefine pop music. They aren't. The full-length album may not equal the celebratory middle finger attitude of this nearly punk rock and string-laden single, but there's no reason why we can't treat The Pipettes like the 45 RPM hits of yesteryear.

Song: “Paint It Beige”
Album: (unreleased)
Artist: Telenovela

Speed up a legendary soul-jazz vibraphonist's sample; keep the crackle of the vinyl in the mix. Put a ridiculously difficult drum part behind it, and I've almost described your favorite Stereolab song. Admittedly, these folks are friends from my stomping grounds in Athens, Ga., but the town hasn't heard this kind of detailed attention to arrangement and songwriting in a long time.

Song: “Posters”
Album: City & Eastern Songs
Artist: Jeffrey & Jack Lewis

First time in a real studio for Jeffrey Lewis, the NYC Lower-East-Side, world-travellin', anti-folkie, and it's with the inimitable Kramer producing, no less! Co-written with his brother Jack, "Posters" is almost like a lost Pavement gem with a vocal chorus Malkmus could have never written. Sure, the lyrics are kinda dumb, which is unlike Jeffrey's usually smart, rambling narratives, but I'd like to think it's in the spirit of its musical tribute.

Read more about my intern experience and how I choose music for the Intern Edition show in my personal blog, National Public Viking.

Lars Gotrich is Music Director of Intern Edition and interns with All Songs Considered.

Foreigners on Foreigners

Ko Im       |       July 31, 2006      |      Permalink

The Washington Post reported today that AOL Executive Ted Leonsis and Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, have teamed up to produce a documentary about “The Rape of Nanking.”

Apparently, Leonsis read Iris Chang’s book, and says the documentary will be like Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.” We’ll see about that; I hope the music’s just as great.

I recently reread “The Rape of Nanking,” and I’m torn. The documentary focuses on the heroic efforts of foreigners who saved 250,000 Chinese from the Japanese army. It makes sense, I guess, to focus on one time period and one group of people, but I hope they shed light on the plight of the Chinese themselves, too. I understand it would be more difficult to get testimonies from Chinese victims. East Asia has a shame-based culture. It would be embarrassing, not brave, to retell the atrocities from that era. Still, I’m glad somebody is finally doing a documentary on the incident but wonder what the American, German, Chinese, Japanese and Korean reaction will be. I predict the Asian countries will be more critical.

On a random note, documentary director, Bill Guttentag, is an alumni of my school, University of Pennsylvania.

Ko Im wants to be a foreign correspondent for East Asia one day.

How to Run (Into) a Host

Ko Im       |       July 28, 2006      |      Permalink

I burned some calories at an odd time yesterday.
Ko Im

I ran scripts for All Things Considered. This means, I went back and forth to STUDIO 2A to hand the most recently updated scripts hot off the printer to the show director and hosts, Robert Siegel and Michele Norris. Nicole Beemsterboer, one of the two ATC interns this summer, and I swapped duties today -- she came in at 5 a.m., which is when Morning Edition airs, and I came in at 10 a.m. for the morning All Things Considered meeting.

I may have missed the brown bag with Program and Acquisitions Manager Eric Nuzum discussing the differences between the programs, but I learned firsthand today that the shows are, in fact, different, and it’s not just the time of day they air. It was fun.

I’m planning on coming in for ME’s overnight shift next week and running scripts just for the show director and fill-in guest, since Renee Montagne is at NPRWest and Steve Inskeep is away. No vacation for me, at least, not yet. And for now, I’ve said good-bye to heels.

Ko Im thanks the Digital Media Team from the bottom of her heart for keeping the blog updated in a timely manner to appease the masses.

Intern to NPR Pro: An Interview with Ari Shapiro

Ko Im    |    July 27, 2006   |   Permalink

Jeremy VanderKnyff
“Secrecy is the enemy of democracy. If politicians are acting honorably, they can do it with the doors open and the lights on.”
-- Bob Edwards

If you’re a college student like me, you’ve probably spent a LOT of money on coffee. And if you’ve had Starbucks this summer, you’ve probably seen Bob Edwards’ quote on your caramel macchiato. It’s Starbuck’s way of documenting America’s media icons. Maybe Ari Shapiro will be quoted one day. Five years ago, the then twenty-two-year-old was an intern for Nina Totenberg. Now, he’s NPR’s justice reporter. In an exclusive interview, I found out his “dirty little secret,” his opinion about blogging, and how Bob Edwards taught him to strip a script down to its skeletal structure. Here are just a few of the Q and A’s.

Ko Im is a Morning Edition intern and thinks Ari Shapiro is an inspiration to us all.

BBB: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms

Jamie Hammon       |       July 25, 2006      |      Permalink

Here I am, enjoying a scorching hot summer in our nation’s capital, working with a bunch of really smart classical-music geeks in NPR’s music unit. They are the kind of people who call Shostakovich “Shosty,” who call a great violin solo “hot,” and who play drop-the-needle with Beethoven symphonies at office parties. (Like when old-school music history professors drop the needle of a record player onto the record and students have to guess the piece of music, composer, style, year, etc.) When else in my life, outside of academia, am I going to get to be surrounded by a bunch of people like that?

It’s an odd environment. In the office, classical music is everything – it’s what we talk about and what we listen to and what we write about and what we think about. Not only do we play drop the needle at an office party, but we get right answers. Which is a strange side of the musical fence to be on, considering how obsolete a knowledge of classical music has become to the lives and cares of even the most intelligent and sophisticated of people.

I’m not going to complain about an American cultural deficit or get on a soap box for Bach or anything – I love Kelly Clarkson as much as the next guy. I’m just pointing out the odd position of working for an extremely niche show with extremely niche people, broadcasted for an extremely niche audience. A show that honors and showcases the music most people would only hear while shopping for panties at Victoria’s Secret, or fulfilling a cultural requirement in a music history class.

I’m so glad to be a part of it. As I write this, I’m listening to a stunning performance of a Chopin Ballade, and it’s time to wrap up so I can write about one of Lehar’s waltzes for tomorrow’s show…again, when else in my life will I get a chance to be in a work environment like this? It’s lovely. Viva la Bach.

If you want to play drop-the-needle at your own parties, you better brush up on your Beethoven first. Try listening to all nine Beethoven symphonies, played by the amazing Philadelphia Orchestra. Jamie recommends listening to the second movement (the Allegretto) of the 7th symphony – it’s too gorgeous to miss.

And, check out Performance Today’s recommendations for the fifty classical albums everyone should own.

Jamie Hammon listened to Mozart as a Victoria’s Secret sales clerk before getting her degree in piano performance. She’s an intern with Performance Today.

It Affects Us All

Ko Im       |       July 25, 2006      |      Permalink

As part of my internship duties, I edit and post comments for Leroy Sievers’ commentary/blog on NPR’s website.

Today he wrote: “It's sort of amazing that with all of the money, time and knowledge that has been poured into the war on cancer, there still isn't a cure.”

But this past weekend, my friend helped get closer to that goal. She raised so much money hosting a benefit party in Brooklyn for her little brother’s success battling leukemia. All proceeds were matched by a company and went towards the National Childhood Cancer Foundation. AND, she shaved her head for Locks of Love.

Meagan and Ryan Kozhimala, ribbon commemorating celebration, and Meagan after cutting hair
Meagan Kozhimala hosts a party to celebrate her brother, Ryan's, good health after battling leukemia and to raise money
for childhood cancer research.

I’m so touched, and so proud of her. Sievers’ blog may be called “My Cancer”, but as I witnessed on Sunday, we realize it’s more like OUR cancer. Congratulations, Meagan and Ryan Kozhimala!

Not Your Average Girl...

Jessica Skwir and Stacey Loomis       |       July 24, 2006      |      Permalink

Last Thursday, the NPR staff was invited to attend the intimate performance chat in Studio 4A with India.Arie for Talk of the Nation. There were only 25 seats available for employees. Interns Stacey Loomis and Jessica Skwir both managed to snag spots.

Jessica describes the significance of the event for her:

Knowing that India.Arie was playing live on Talk of the Nation on Thursday, I was quick to RSVP for a seat in the audience of the live performance. I hadn't gotten a response by the time I left work so the first thing I did when I got home was log into my account … which was followed by a combination of shrieking, grinning, and jumping up and down. Why? Because I got a seat for the show! I LOVE India.Arie. She is the most amazing woman ever, not to mention having a beautiful spirit and voice!

It's interesting that I care so much about this artist. I grew up in a Catholic household, and I even went to a liberal arts college founded under the Dominican (Catholic) tradition, yet I am far from devout and quite hesitant of secular religion. Still, India.Arie's voice speaks of life, reality and hope. Her message to me is one of great depth and spirit.

On the show, she briefly spoke of her service to the public through UNICEF, offering a human example of how giving of yourself makes a difference in the world. She spoke and sang about her past relationships, conveying a realistic spin to the hurt and personal growth a relationship can bring. I may not be the best judge of faith, but if her words aren't of spiritual significance, I don't know what is.

Stacey reflects on the powerful performance:

Until recently, I had limited exposure to India.Arie's music. I had heard the singles from her debut album, Acoustic Soul. I sometimes sang the chorus from her hit song, "Video." I liked her music and her message of self-empowerment that underlies most of her songs. But what really impacted me was a documentary called Tracking the Monster that I watched on VH1. India traveled around the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, and brought love and hope to AIDS orphans. When India sang to a young girl with sad, somber, soulful eyes and gave her a hug and a backpack, the little girl finally smiled and laughed while I broke into tears.

The performance was honest and unrehearsed. India walked in about a minute before the show went live, dressed casually in jeans, a white t-shirt, brown boots and white head wrap. Her band - a keyboardist/backup singer, bassist, drummer, guitarist/backup singer, and two backup singers -- was in place and ready to go. She opened the show with the first single from her new album, "I am Not My Hair." Her voice was crisp and beautiful. She sang four other songs throughout the show. "Wings of Forgiveness," inspired by Nelson Mandela, gave me goose bumps. I also loved bluegrass-tinged "Summer."

After the performance, the host Neal Conan, asked India a few questions about the inspiration for her songs. It was clear that India's answers weren't rehearsed, even though some of the questions were pretty predictable and have probably been asked of her many times before. She even had to ask Neal what his name was during the show but later explained that she's actually a fan of the show and is used to hearing of him as "Neal Conan," not just "Neal."

India also answered questions from listeners and the studio audience. I was so tempted to ask one about her influences, but I never worked up the nerve. My favorite questions ended up being from two of the most diverse callers. One was a 12-year-old girl who asked India how she gets the confidence to perform (I didn't know 12-year-olds listened to TOTN!) The second question came from a 47-year-old truck driver who, in his shaky voice, said he'd never heard of India before but was deeply moved by her performance and the knowledge that there are people like her in the world.

It was an amazing opportunity and definitely the highlight of my NPR internship so far. Unfortunately, I couldn't stick around to meet her, but I feel fortunate to have been able to be a part of such an intimate performance, something I may not experience again for a long time.

Stacey Loomis, an intern in the Development department, and Jessica Skwir, an intern in the Corporate Communication department, were two of the few lucky fans who enjoyed the perks of interning at NPR.

Why I Won't Be Jaywalking

Ko Im       |       July 20, 2006      |      Permalink

Ko Im
Ko will try to resist the temptation to jaywalk
at 7th and Massachussetts.

According to WAMU's Lisa Nurnberger, the crime rate in D.C. is up this summer. Just two weekends ago, someone was murdered near my apartment. So why are police officers waiting around at big intersections instead of staking out the dark alleys?

One of my first experiences with my roommate from Indiana, Amy*, was getting issued a jaywalking ticket in Georgetown, at M and Wisconsin. The police officer issued us a warning, misspelled our names on the ticket, and told us to be careful. Relieved, we left the "crime scene."

Just yesterday, though, Amy's mom got a letter in the mail saying Amy's license will be revoked if she does not pay the bill. I'm waiting for a call from my mom. Thank God mail gets to my island slower.

Note to self: DO NOT JAYWALK.

D.C. is not Guam or Indiana. Even if you look like a tourist, no one will stop for you, and you are not invisible to the police.

*This name has been changed.

Ko Im is a Morning Edition intern and will try not to jaywalk this summer.

Looking Up Homelessness

Ko Im       |       July 19, 2006      |      Permalink

Jeremy VanderKnyff

Morning Edition continues its series this week on homelessness in various cities.

Washington, D.C. has 5,518 out of its 553,523 residents. This translates to 1%, according to a 2005 study done by the Weingart Center.

But to me, it seems like a lot more. You see it everyday. On the Circulator to NPR, I see people in business suits walk on the green past homeless people sleeping on benches. I've worked in soup kitchens in high school for International Baccalaureate program requirements and at college as an Alpha Phi Omega brother, but I never took the time out to look into the causes of homelessness: Cheers to Morning Edition for covering homelessness. There are several soup kitchens in the area, if you want to give up two hours for a good cause.

Boxes & Circles

Kelly Reeves       |       July 18, 2006      |      Permalink

I live in a box, I work in a box, and I travel in a box. I'm tired of it, and wanted to save $4.60 a day in metro fares, so I decided to start biking to NPR from Silver Spring, Maryland. I took the Georgetown Branch to Capital Crescent to Rock Creek Park and along the Mall, before arriving at 635 Mass Ave.

The treacherous journey Kelly faces each day,
wrought with peril beyond human comprehension
...And an invitation for back pain.

I saved money and I certainly got exercise, but I threw out my back… Here’s what you should do to avoid similar mishaps: Why? So take care when starting exercise that could strain your back, especially if you're riding twenty-five miles with a heavy book bag strapped to your back.

Kelly Reeves is an intern at the Science Desk and took up biking this summer in an effort to ward off the label “old fogey.”

To Webify or Not to Webify - That is the Question

Danielle Trusso       |       July 18, 2006      |      Permalink

Just as the site's designers had to make some compromises, every editorial decision is a give-and-take with the writer. Each word is scrutinized: Is this what you want to say? Did I capture your thoughts and the meaning of your story in just a few words? Are they just the right words?

Why so much trouble? Well, aside from wanting to adhere to professional NPR standards, this site has to convey what it means to be an intern at the most listened-to public radio station in the country.

As I write this blog, I'm tidying up Intern Edition story summaries and concocting headlines for each one. (I'm also trying to get these music buttons to work for the Fresh Air page, something that confounds me more and more each time I do it, even though it should be the simplest task ever created, but that's another story).

Stepping into the world of radio from a background in print media has been interesting. The spoken word doesn't always translate with ease to the written word, and vice-versa. So, everything that appears on the Web site initially has to be "webified." (That's right, webified, or, edited for the web).

No sounds exist to help the story along, necessitating the removal of notes indicating sound, such as, fire truck siren. The words have to create the sounds themselves, to give a full and detailed picture that would otherwise easily come to life as it reaches our ears from the radio.

But as I've been working on my Intern Edition story (my very first broadcast story ever, I might add) and this site simultaneously, I'm finding that the worlds of print and broadcast, though very different, also have their fair share of similarities.

At the July 7 Friday-morning meeting, Danny Zwerdling talked to us about putting together a radio story that grabs the reader. His advice didn't stray too far from what I've learned about writing print stories. In short, a really good, interesting, "driveway moment" story has a cast of memorable characters, a journey and some sort of conflict. It is relatable and conversational, sucking the reader in with details and personality.

We've tried to incorporate these characteristics not only into our stories, but into the Web site itself. With all the writing and editing that goes into it, all the compromises made, the story being told is the bottom line.

Danielle Trusso is an intern with NPR Digital Media and senior editor for the Intern Edition Web site team.

A Horse Designed by Committee

Jeremy VanderKnyff       |       July 12, 2006      |      Permalink

I never ran with scissors. I knew from an early age the importance of sharing and always played well with others. I'm not a brooding loner with a shadowy past. Yet when it comes to my work, particularly Web design, I always maintained a strict hierarchy of work: the client gives me an assignment, I do the assignment, then when the client inevitably demands that there be more buttons, I argue vehemently, ask, "Uh, who's the designer here?" and then eventually get what I want. It's really the only way Web designers can work. You give us the information, and we make an interface that's spiffy and, more importantly, easy to use, and that's just the way things are.

Then I found myself having to work on a team with Web design. Imagine!
yelling chimp
Sometimes, the Web design team felt like this.
Just kidding. But they did tell interns who were
uppity about getting their bio photos taken that
this would be their mugshot.
Multiple people with multiple ideas that have to be taken into account. And here I was with no experience dealing with differing viewpoints on design other than fulfilling that crucial role of the Web designer: to listen very carefully to what the client says he wants, and then convince him as to why implementing all those requests will ruin the page. "Your children will hate you. Your wife will leave you. Your friends will shun you. That's why you don't want any more buttons, Sir."

Yet this summer I've found myself working with two very talented designers, one of them well-acquainted with Web design as well. The result has been conflict, something I'm really not used to dealing with. I like dark colors, and she likes light colors. I prefer the interplay of all elements on the page, and she likes to keep things simple and distinct. If you've ever worked with artists before, it's not that we're all so arrogant that we think we know best. It's just that we're overprotective of our work. At least, I know I am. I'm used to criticism of my work, and have never been offended, but that's when it's my work. This is a team effort. I can't just pick and choose what opinions I choose to listen to.

We didn't argue, but we did disagree. In the end, the three of us looked at every detail of the layout and design and worked out a compromise. I think the compromise looks great. I hate to sound like the kids from South Park, but, you know, I learned something today. The only way we got a great-looking page was because of the reconciliation of two entirely different visions.

Now enough of my moralizing. Enjoy the site.

Jeremy "Captain" VanderKnyff is an intern with NPR Digital Media and part of the design team behind the Intern Edition Web site you are currently perusing.

It Ain't So Old School

Doug Mitchell       |       July 6, 2006      |      Permalink

I'll go a long way to make a point, so please bear with me...

I'm reading the paper on the subway this morning, as always. I like to physically touch a version of the news in the morning. It's the last "old school" thing I do anymore with media. (You know, I wish they'd stop trying to hand me that tabloid thing in and out of the subway. Also, it gets thrown on my lawn each morning. What a waste of good trees).

Anyway, in the paper is an article on how the anchor of a popular "vlog" (video log) was fired from her job. She co-owned the vlog but had 49 percent of the shares to her former business (hmm...) partner's 51 percent. There was a sexist comment insinuating that most of the 300,000 hits were from people who watched because she's attractive. A still photo accompanied the article, designed to help the reader make a decision in that area.

I got off the train and kept thinking about the story about the vlog. About the 300,000 people taking time out to watch this person deliver "the news." The article hinted that the site is a threat to traditional media. Duh. But, I won't watch it. I won't even click on links forwarded to me by people I know. Watch a vlog? Read a blog? Forget it.

Which is exactly why I'm writing the inaugural entry for the Intern Edition Blog. We've had issues with interns and blogs. We had to insist that they not "blog" while at NPR. At least for other people. But, I saw no reason why they can't blog for themselves. In fact, on our last next generation radio project, our student participants (DrNiceGuy, J Ma, konakafe and JC) blogged during the week. But, as someone who is right now sitting at his desk listening to an Internet Radio station (no commercials, only music), writing this and keeping an IM conversation going, too, the article on the vlog got me thinking not so much about my insisting on holding the newspaper each morning, but realizing much of what I do now for NPR isn't really about my choices.

It's about our next generation of consumers. It's about the next generation of media professionals, regardless of their medium of choice although we hope it's public media. And, it's about how many different ways there are now to purpose and re-purpose information. A guru of mine told me years ago, "he who controls distribution, controls the world." That was true until now. The decentralization of media means everyone has control. Media companies that work in silos won't last. A vlog or a blog (either of which I expect to soon come as attachments to text messages on my cell phone as spam) are the latest incarnation of spread of egalitarianism in media, content development and distribution. In other words, everybody rules. It can be a problem but let's not go there now.

So, to wit, the Intern blog for the summer of 2006. Our interns are much more interesting than me, ya know?


Doug Mitchell is the project manager for the Next Generation training programs and keeps track of former NPR interns to see how far they really do go.


Heather Smith       |       July 4, 2006      |      Permalink

Rain, flooding, rain, and more rain meant the crowd gathered on the Mall to watch the fireworks was unusually sparse. The presence of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival meant that the concession food was, officially, the Best Ever Obtained at a Holiday Festival that Involved Explosions.

Heather Smith
Fireworks on the National Mall, one of many delicious things
The festival happens every year in the weeks surrounding the Fourth. It exists as a means of both unfurling a glorious rainbow of musical diversity, and gently broiling the fans of said rainbow in the stultifying July heat. In an online Q&A session, several people plaintively asked, Richard Kurin, director of the Folklife Center, if it were possible to hold the festival under less heatstroke-inducing circumstances. The answer, in short, was no. Folk tradition and patriotic expressions go together like fluffer on nutter, and that's all there is to it.

This year the festival focused on the music, crafts and, of course, the food of New Orleans, the Latino Communities of Chicago, and the Native American communities of Alberta, Canada.

I had an ear of Peruvian corn (giant kernels, very chewy, drenched in butter by yours truly) and a mango lassi (no word as to why there was a lassi stand but no sitar music or Bollywood dance troupe. I also spotted a hot dog stand off in the distance, also without musical accompaniment.) Nonetheless, the lassi and corn were delicious together, despite having originated on separate continents.

The fireworks show began. People milled around and oooh-ed and aah-ed, couples snuggled, small children began to cry. I ate my corn and thought about how lucky I was to be, for once, seeing a fireworks show that wasn't obscured by fog.

That was, of course, before my friends called from San Francisco the next day to report that the skies had been preternaturally clear AND there had been a free show in which mimes satirized the narrowing separation of church and state. Showoffs.

Heather Smith is an intern with Weekend Edition Saturday and is always on the lookout for super-delicious food.

Saying Aloha to Radio

Ko Woon Im       |       June 26, 2006      |      Permalink

Photo courtesy of Ko Im
Ko with the K-Drama Fan Club
I just got back to rainy D.C. from the Asian American Journalists Association's 18th Annual Convention in Hawaii. I was one of four students on the radio project to produce a newsmagazine within a week.

What I learned: On a more practical note:

I have to give a Mahalo to Doug Mitchell and Reena Advani for this wonderful learning experience.

For the story and more, check out the details at NPR's Next Generation website:

-Ko Im is an intern with Morning Edition who has used a lot of sunblock this summer.

Diversity in America - Crossing Lines

Christina Tran       |       June 25, 2006      |      Permalink

I'm sitting in the Barnes & Noble on 12th and E surrounded by books and glossy magazines. It has two stories, escalators and a security guard by the front door. I'm here to buy a planner, but it's also to escape from how I was feeling earlier. My Intern Edition reporting brought me into Columbia Heights alone on an overcast Sunday afternoon. The unexpected combination of feeling like an outsider combined with a little bit of fear and anger at myself for feeling those emotions, left me with a gnawing realization that I am embarrassingly more middle class than I thought. And it left me wondering again about diversity in America.

images of people walking in Gallery Place and Columbia Heights
4 Metro stops apart, Gallery Place and Columbia Heights are distinctly different neighborhoods...or are they?

It's easy to say something like, "Racial differences don't bother me. My company is very diverse, and my kids go to school with people of all different backgrounds." Even though we may interact with people of different races on a daily basis, those we have relationships with are usually of similar socio-economic backgrounds. It's easy to say, "Race doesn't bother me. I don't even notice a person's skin color," because when you're out and about in a place where you feel comfortable, you generally don't notice. I don't notice the blackness or whiteness of the dad giving his little son a juice box on 7th and F because my guard isn't up as it is on Columbia and 16th where I notice the brownness of every man sitting in silence with his friends on apartment stoops. Do they also wonder about my yellowness because I'm failing in my attempt to pretend that I'm completely comfortable? Why don't I feel comfortable? And why shouldn't I?

Is it not so much an issue of race as it is an issue of class? Furthermore, not so much an issue of diversity in demographics of an entire city, but segregation of people within that city? I went to college in Austin and was surprised to learn that I-35 was a physical and mental divide between east and west Austin, and crossing some lines meant you were in a supposedly poorer, more ethnic, and in some cases, more dangerous place. In the case of Austin, as it is wherever these barriers grow throughout history, most of these "East Austin" traits are a result of inherited perceptions that go unchallenged and which are taken as given -- leading to self-fulfilling prophecies which only reinforce the initial prejudices. What a difference crossing a highway makes. What a difference a couple of Metro stops makes.

As a side project, I'm currently mapping people's music selections as they ride the Metro. I'm only polling people on my regular Metro routes as I explore the city as a summer intern. It'll be interesting to see the clusters of data along the red line that I ride on my daily commute and the spattering of information as I venture forth at other times on the green and yellow lines, the orange and the blue. Will I ever go into Southeast DC? Will I linger around Columbia Heights anymore? I honestly don't know. But I hope so.

When I told my former supervisor I was going to DC, he smiled, thinking of his own post-college escapades. He told me, "You learn the most about yourself when you go to a new city." Now I just have to face the me I'm finding -- and the hidden things that I don't have to confront when I'm comfortable in my daily routines, surrounded by non-strangers and traveling the same routes I have always traveled.

Christina Tran is an intern with the Creative Services department who loves the Metro after living in a car city all her life.

Inside NPR West: First Real Assignment

Maja Cholody       |       June 18, 2006      |      Permalink

Photo courtesy of Maja Cholody
Maja seeks out World Cup fans in cafes and bars.
My day at Morning Edition West begins bright and early at 5:30 a.m. Those ridiculously early morning shifts have pretty much been the standard for me ever since I started working in radio news. It comes with the territory, I guess -- the news doesn't sleep and apparently, neither do I.

This past week was a pleasure to get up, however, as I was given my first real assignment -- to cover the World Cup in the Los Angeles area. My coverage involved visiting various local bars, from a run down cafe in the not-so-pleasant neighborhood of Inglewood, to a dingy British pub in Santa Monica. I headed out at 8 a.m. skeptical of finding any fans at such early hours, only to come across 500 Brazilians dancing to samba beats, drinking beer for breakfast, and being more than happy to speak about the wonderful culture surrounding their favorite sport.

Even though Trinidad and Tobago lost both of its games, by far the happiest people I interviewed were in the small Trinidadian community in Inglewood. The cafe was swarming with a sea of black and red, as people danced around the small restaurant waving large flags while Caribbean music blasted from the DJ's speakers in the background. This was Trinidad and Tobago's first appearance in the World Cup, so everyone inside was bursting with joy and positive island energy.

The British fans were a completely different story. As I entered the pub it was pitch black with the smell of stale beer and sweat in the air, the only light coming from the various television screens displaying the game. I saddled up next to a British lad but I soon learned the British were less than willing to give me any quotes. I made the mistake of trying to speak to him while the game was still playing, only to be yelled at for interrupting his concentration. After the game and England's victory, people warmed up a bit (about as warm as England gets) and a couple enthusiastic Brits explained to me how soccer is in "the blood" and "yer born with it in England."

My interviews were a great experience. Actually hearing my sound and interviews on this morning's show was extremely gratifying. This is ultimately what I hope to do one day, so with any luck I can continue working for NPR and interviewing such diverse and colorful people.

Find the story at:

Maja Cholody is an intern with Morning Edition West and living it up on that coast.