SRL Spotlight: Meredith DeMarois
Meredith DeMarois, a member of the inaugural SRL All-Stars Class, will be documenting her intership experience at MontanaPBS. Follow her journey here.
This past week I was able to focus on the thing I’m best at and the thing I’m worst at.
The research aspect of journalism is one of my favorite things of all time. I love to dig for information, record it, make sense of itand then find contacts to confirm or deny it. Ironically, I hate calling contacts to confirm or deny it. It doesn’t make sense, right? Calling people is a part- a crucial part, I might add – to digging. As much as I don’t like it, I decided again that I might as well throw myself into it. And by golly, I called the governor’s office right up to ask about transporting oil across the state, regardless of the fact that I had a small fit of panic right before doing so. Either way, I did a lot of both research and calling this week as I began finding topics to look at for my story for NewsHour.
I thought I knew a lot about what was going on in Montana, but it’s almost comical how wrong I was. It’s astounding to me that some serious things are happening in and around our state and yet it’s as if no one has any clue what I’m talking about outside of my world of research. Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday were all about finding topics and gathering basic information. The other part of Wednesday and all of Thursday were about calling people to figure out if there was actually a story or not.
One idea I found was about the first dinosaur embryos that were found in Montana by a famous paleontologist named Jack Horner. Horner is a curator at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana and is well known for his assistance in the making of the Jurassic Park movies. There wasn’t a number to call or email address for him on the museum website, so I sent a brief message to the executive director explaining who I was and what I wanted. The director passed my message along to Horner. To my incredible luck on Thursday morning, I checked my emails first thing when I woke up. If I hadn’t done so I wouldn’t have been able to take this opportunity. Horner gave me the number for his office and told me he would be there from 8 to 10. It was 8:30 and I called him right away, getting his voicemail. I left another message, and decided to take a shower in the meantime. To my, once again, incredible luck, Horner called right as I was about to wash some shampoo out of my hair. I turned the water off, jumped and nearly slipped out of the shower, and answered. Horner and I had a good conversation, and he was very good at helping me understand the concept of the dinosaur embryos. I mean, really, they ARE the smallest dinosaurs in the world, it’s not something you get to talk about everyday. However, I kept it pretty brief, considering I was trailing water and suds all over the house.
I’m really enjoying Montana PBS and its employees. They’ve been very welcoming, and very helpful. I had the chance to sit in on their production meeting at the beginning of the week, only to feel more welcomed by issues and dynamics that I had experienced in Sentinel’s journalism department. Perhaps the issues were a bit more sophisticated, but it was nice to know there were things I was familiar with that still impact journalism everyday. Now that the work week is over, I’m headed to Flathead Lake with my family to celebrate the Fourth of July, but something tells me I’ll be itching to keep digging for information on these stories. Due to lack of internet access, I’ll have to wait until Monday.
On June 19, I met with Anna Rau, my PBS mentor, to discuss what I would be doing as part of my summer internship with MontanaPBS. While at this meeting, I met her colleague, John Twiggs, who would also be giving me and fellow intern, Eric, instruction. I walked into the meeting, and I was practically shaking from how nervous I was. However, it proved that I didn’t have as much to worry about as I thought I did.
This summer Eric and I will be working on a series of man-on-the-street interviews called “Voter’s Voice” that are planned to air this fall between election commentary. We will be going around the state asking Montana voters what issues matter most to them in the upcoming House and Senate elections. In addition, the subject of outside spending on campaigns, which is quite prevalent in Montana, would also be a topic of interest.
There were several other tasks they explained that I would be involved in, but they all seemed like things that I could manage as long as I began to learn the basics of a different editing software and more complex equipment.
I told myself to relax, that I could do this, that I was prepared and that more than anything — I was ready to learn. That night, I received a text from Anna. She told me that John and Eric were headed to Butte, Montana first thing in the morning to shoot footage for a piece that had to do with the concussion research happening at the University of Montana. She also mentioned that I was welcome to go with them. Figuring that I might as well jump into my job head first, I told her that I would be there.
My first day on the job was a pleasant, familiar one. It was like any other shoot I had done in high school, except it was perhaps a little bit more sophisticated in its execution. More than anything — it was fascinating.
Though I started out my first week feeling a bit intimidated by my internship, I’m feeling confident in how the rest of my time is going to go. I feel as though MontanaPBS is a good fit for me right now, and that I will learn a great deal from a lot of experienced journalists.
— studentreportinglabs (@reportinglabs) June 20, 2014