My Time With The Boulder Weekly – Internship Work Log

Week 1
I was assigned to write an environmental story for the publication this week. The topic was on recycling medication, which I thought was very appealing, and it certainly was in my range of interests. I had found great sources to interview and they were mostly very helpful but, I learned from Elizabeth, the special editions editor at Boulder Weekly that emailing sources wasn’t the best way for an interview. This was because you can never be sure of who’s actually answering the questions on the other end. But the story came out well and was published in the special edition of the Boulder Weekly, called Boulderganic.

Read story here:

Week 2
Jeff, the managing editor, was gone this week but luckily I had two other editors to work with. Steve, the online editor, was extremely helpful to me as I was assigned to cover a cuisine story. The story was about the nose-to-tail dining experience. I had the chance to sit down with chefs in Boulder and learned a lot more than I’d originally thought I would. The story ran that week but I was told to cut down on the ‘cheerleading’ because we want to remain as objective as possible.

Read story here:

Week 3
Both interns and staff joke about having “the week off” when we’re assigned to write Tidbites and Ecobriefs for the paper. Tidbites is a compilation of upcoming food events in the area while Ecobriefs are usually short briefs about current or local environmental issues. Despite not having to interview people, I’d quickly learn that it could still be challenging because it tested my ability to being concise yet detailed enough for readers to grasp all the important information.

Read Ecobrief:

Week 4
I’ve made it one full round and it seemed like I was starting to get the hang of it. Week 4 of the internship proved otherwise for me. Elizabeth had asked me to pitch to her an environmental news story for Boulderganic, the environmental section of the paper. I was excited that I got to choose what to write and so I suggested the idea of writing about the Arctic sea ice melt. The story did not end up running because it failed to capture a local news hook and relevance to the audience of the paper. In return however, Elizabeth got to share with us (the interns) the process of pitching an idea to your editor and that communication is key. Lesson learned.

Week 5
Week 5 was extremely stressful. Not only were we still responsible for the usual weekly content writing, we were also assigned to write about ballot issues for the Boulder Weekly’s annual Vote Guide. I got assigned ballot issues that had to do with two fire departments, Rocky Mountain Fire Protection District Ballot Issue 5A and Boulder Mountain Fire Protection District Ballot Issue 5A.

I had a hard time getting a hold of sources to help me clarify the issue on the ballot and nearly missed my deadline this time but thankfully, my source got back to me on time. I learned that sometimes you just have to be proactive and do everything you can to get that information. I left about a dozen voicemails and was about to walk into my source’s office, had he not returned my phone call in time.

Read Vote Guide here:

Week 6
I was back onto writing cuisine. I chose to write about The Kitchen Boulder and their nonprofit effort called the Learning Garden. Trying to get an interview with a very busy person was my primary concern when I was writing this story. I had to call multiple people before finally being able to schedule a time to interview the co-founder of The Kitchen, Kimbal Musk. I also had to sacrifice my time from classes just so I could do the interview and turn my story in on time. This was also the story that I had to make a correction statement for because I had mistakenly identified a source in my story. It was a hard lesson to learn because these were really the fundamentals of journalism, which I should have known better than to make mistakes with. But Jeff, my editor, was kind to me and says that it happens to the best of us. I am definitely a lot of more aware and careful with my sources and stories now.

Read story:

Week 7
This week was back to writing short environmental and cuisine briefs for me. By now, us interns have mostly gotten the hang of the system and are mostly responsible for our own workload. We mostly got the materials for the sections from press releases that we get. We probably only talked to our editors when we need help or are unsure of certain things. Also due this week was Winter Scene. It’s a special edition that the paper puts out every winter. I had to make a lot of phone calls to a lot of ski resorts and towns for my story, which was about highlighting the new dining options that would be available this winter at different ski resorts and towns. Coordinating and making sure sources got back to me on time was one of the challenges in putting my story together.

Read story:

Week 8
Because my editor Elizabeth already had plans to write an environmental story, I got to sit out of this week’s rotation. I also got feedback on my writing of plot summaries for the section called Reel to Reel, where we list movies that are playing in local theaters around the Boulder/Denver area. I had to improve on a couple of things, especially with keeping things concise and attribution. Reel to Reel has been a real challenge for the past two months just because I’ve never had to write such short and concise pieces like that. But the advice that I got from Elizabeth really helped me get better with it.

Week 9
This week was cuisine again for me. By now I’m pretty used to writing cuisine stories and not as scared as I was when I first started. This week I got to profile a new cuisine business called Dishcrawl. My sources were extremely helpful despite located out of the state in California. I also learned how to generally refuse accepting gifts or free meals just to avoid any possible conflict that could arise from it.

Read story:

Week 10
Writing Ecobriefs and Tidbites are becoming easier for me and I’m learning as I go, how to pull out key information from press releases while making them easy and fun to read. I also got feedback again on my movie summaries for Reel to Reel and Elizabeth said she found no mistakes this time. I was delighted. I finally got it right.

I also got assigned a lot more responsibilities this week. My editor handed me a stack of information about candidates in Colorado and their latest campaign efforts as Election Day drew closer and asked me to whip up a quick news story for the web within two hours. I managed to do it and the story was published on Boulder Weekly’s website.

On Friday of that week, I got the chance to write another online news story on President Obama’s third visit to CU and used an interactive story telling tool called Storify. As a social media whiz, putting together the story with Storify barely seemed like work at all. I enjoyed working with it and the outcome was pleasing. I met my deadline and submitted the story to Elizabeth, and she said it was good, with minor corrections to look out for, especially with Storify.

Read stories:

Week 11
I didn’t have a story published this week.

Week 12
I was back to writing cuisine and my editor, Elizabeth, had gotten a tip during the Great American Beer Festival about cheese pairing with beer instead of with wine. I got to talk to some local breweries, a sommelier and the owner of Cured Boulder, a cheese store, and was really fascinated by the process and really got to learn a lot more about beer too.

Week 13 – Fall break
Since I didn’t end up traveling or even leaving town for Thanksgiving, I went into the office. The production day was pushed up this week so everything was due a lot sooner than expected. I had to put together Reel to Reel even before some of the week’s movies were out and that just meant taking the extra step again and calling all the movie theaters for information in advance.

One of my past Ecobriefs was supposed to run today but it got pushed to next week. I had a meeting with all my editors and Steve had pointed out plagiarism to me. I’ve always understood the severity of the issue, especially being a college student and could never fathom actually intentionally perpetrating such an action. But  I guess it could still happen, especially so when you’re writing based of a press release, which is what I was doing.

Steve showed me my mistakes by highlighting phrases from the original text and then comparing them to my writing to see the similarities. The last time I remember doing a similar thing was when I’d worked with the CU Independent during my sophomore year and had no idea how to write a breaking news story based on a press release at all. It was something that I never did in any of my news/ed reporting classes and I guess I’d never gotten much practice with it until this internship. Needless to say, this was still one of my weakest set of skills, but I was confident that I would be able to master it, given the chance and opportunity. I write similar things every other week with Tidbites as well and never really encountered a problem this severe.

He also sent out an email to all the interns on guidelines for plagiarism, which probably applied to me more than anyone else.

Week 14
This was an exciting week for me because I got to write a preview sort of story to Bill McKibben’s roadshow that came to Boulder. I had interviewed him over the phone about a month earlier and was initially really nervous because up to today, he was the most “famous” person I’d interviewed. But the interview went really well and he turned out to be quite chatty, which made the interview easier too.

Read story: 

Week 15
Writing a cuisine feature this week was a little tough because I didn’t get any press release or tip to work off with. So Steve, the online editor at the Weekly, and I started brainstorming together and we came up with an idea to write about smartphone food apps and it turned out to be a great idea. I got to talk to local app developers and got a lot of information on how many food apps were out there, just for Boulder.

My gift guide story also ran this week. I worked with Elizabeth quite a little bit to come up with a theme for this story but the final version still needed a lot of editing because she said that the items didn’t quite fit the theme I had picked. So instead of “Buying for singles”, it just became “Buying for that cook in the family,” which I think worked just as well.

Elizabeth also dropped me an email over plagiarism in Reel to Reel this week. One of the movie plot summaries I’d written sounded too similar to the one that was posted on I think it was pure carelessness (which isn’t an excuse at all) on my part since I’m always working on such a tight deadline with Reel to Reel and having to remember to include all the movie theaters, attributions as well as being aware on conciseness and space constraints with that section of the paper. Regardless, it was expensive mistake for me to have made, despite it being completely unintentional.

Read story:

Week 16 

I spent my last week at the Boulder Weekly putting together my last gift guide story. The topic was last minute gifts, which is something I was familiar with since I do a lot of last minute shopping every year during the holidays. Elizabeth gave me back edits after I’d submitted the story to her and this was my only story that had the least amount of edits or revision made to it. She only made me double check two things out of the entire story. She also dropped me an email saying how I did a nice work on this story, where the items fit the theme well, the information I’d included were thorough and my focus on local retailers were great. That was the first time I had gotten a pat on the back for my work and I thought that I had improved as a writer through my internship at the Boulder Weekly.

Friday was my last day with the team and I felt a little sad to be leaving because I loved writing and learning from them. Despite thinking that I’d improved and learned a lot, the editors told me that I had still failed to meet their expectations. It was hard not to feel completely defeated at that point. I said thank you to all my editors for their time with me after the meeting. Even though I didn’t do well, I think that I still walked away from the internship knowing more than I did before.


All I Know Is That We Said Hello

I find it rather to difficult to process the series of events that’s happened in the past 24 hours, along with my emotions.

I don’t know if my feelings right now are real or not, but today was one of the best days I’ve had in a while. It was everything I’ve missed and everything I’ve craved for for such a long time.

C was awkwardly funny and extremely sarcastic. We met in one of the most cliches and conventional ways: at a bar.

It was one of my least favorite bars in town. The Downer, as it’s known around here, reeked of PBR and sweat. On a Tuesday night over fall break, the dingy bar was empty, and people lingered around in dark corners, taking turns at playing pool.

I pulled out my phone out of boredom, and suddenly, I see random fingers tapping away at my screen. Annoyed, I looked up to meet a pair of brown eyes and a boyish smile.

“Are you in ROTC?!?!,” he yelled over the indie music playing in the background.

What in the world was this kid on?! Clearly, I did not look like I belong in ROTC but judging by his state, he had one too many drinks for that night.

I was told that this 6′ 2 brown eyed mess goes by the name S. Whatever. He moved to stand next to me and we got into some jokes about the Broncos and bar fights, if I even remember that right. Somewhere in between that and commenting on his cheap looking hat, he’d leaned in to kiss me in the middle of a half empty bar, with everyone pretty much staring.

Feeling extremely uncomfortable with that, I motioned for us to leave the bar and possibly head home. The night was young and surprisingly warm. We stayed up and talked. I learned that his name was actually C and he’d recently moved to California after graduating with a degree in chemical engineering this past May.

I said goodbye to him earlier tonight after spending nearly all day together. We had lunch on Pearl Street and we talked even more about family, jobs and dessert. Lunch was over within an hour. We decided to walk around the mall, making quick stops at a t-shirt store and a newly opened candy shop. But with no other plans left for the day, I invited him over for a movie.

Curling up against him and watching The Matrix for the first time was quite an experience. He took the patience to explain essentially what was going on after each scene and didn’t seem to mind that one bit.

We stayed in the same spot until it was dark outside, until we ran out of excuses for each other to remain in that state. I don’t know why but I felt somewhat disappointed when he said he had to go home. Looking at the big picture, I actually barely even know this person. I’d just met him and the surest thing that I know about him is that he really likes pumpkin pie and that he hates country music.

But sitting alone in my living room right now, I keep going over the “what if’s”. What if he didn’t live in California? What if he’d chosen to stay? What if he valued the six hours or so that we’d shared today?

What if there was a chance this could be something more than a mere hello and goodbye?

No To Pom-Poms?

It’s a rainy night in Boulder and the world couldn’t be more beautiful right at this moment.

I guess it’s a good time for me to take a step back and give a little more context to you (my audience) about what I do when I say I’m journalist. Or at least one that’s in training.

I’m well into my third week of school as a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder and I feel like time is moving too fast for me, especially since I’m scheduled to graduate this December. I’m scrambling to get everything together, from classes to internships to graduation forms. So yes, I am a 20-something-year-old news-editorial senior that’s not at all ready to face the real world.

For credit this semester however, I’ve gotten an internship with a local weekly newspaper in town called the Boulder Weekly. I guess this is the extent of my journalism “career” right now. For the most part, I love my job. I’ve always loved what I do, especially since with this internship, I get to write so much more than my previous one with a magazine company. Also, my editors are often times so helpful and absolutely hilarious. But if I were to pick the best part about working with them? It’s the free coffee and bagels. Lifesavers.

I’ve been writing ever since I could remember. But I’ve only started actually getting into the reporting gig about a year and a half ago. I started out with the campus newspaper and then branched my way out from there, occasionally switching it up and dabbling in social media. So although writing comes like second nature to me, reporting, as I’ve learned, is another skill that I need polished.

This week’s journalistic challenge? Cheerleading. 

My news assignment for the week was to write a cuisine story for the paper. Jeff, my editor, assigned me the topic of nose to tail dining. Nose to tail is an interesting dining experience where guests are basically served the entire animal. Insides and everything.

…I know right.

Surprisingly though, as I did my research and talked to my sources, a lot of people actually like having it. It promotes sustainability, prevents wastage, and is often really tasty since the meat is carefully prepared, seasoned and paired with some type of alcoholic beverage.

I turned in my article, confident that with the work I had produced and only hoping for the best. Within an hour of turning it in, my editor sent it back to me with feedback. You know, I’m gonna be honest, it’s always been a little hard for me to read what professors, lecturers and editors call “constructive criticism”. I’ve gotten better with it since I first started but there’s always a flutter of nervousness and I almost always hold my breath while reading the edited version, complete with red comments in the margins, until I’ve reached the very end.

Cheerleading in journalism is what puffery would be in advertising. O.K. maybe not as skewed but you get the idea. In the feedback, my editor had noted that I’d included too much cheerleading in my article, which basically meant that I’d included too much promoting or supporting of a certain point of view.

First reaction was denial. Of course not. I was absolutely objective and tried including a variety of sources. But then I read his feedback again. And again and tried to process it fully and I got to see his point. Then, I didn’t feel as offended or disturbed by it. I was actually really grateful to have that pointed out to me because now I know that there’s a fine line between describing something and promoting something.

At this point in my life and education, I count it extremely important that I have mentors all around me for reasons just like this one. So, thanks Steve!