When I was offered an internship at King World’s Inside Edition, a television newsmagazine that falls under the umbrella of CBS Television Distribution, I thought: this is it. My big break. By the end of the summer, I’ll be starring in the movie version of my life, and I’ll be known around the world as The TV Intern Who Made It Big. I’ll be walking red carpets on a daily basis, and I’ll have to dodge throngs of paparazzi everywhere I go. High school classmates of mine, who I went four years without speaking to, will be giving interviews, claiming to have the inside scoop on my teenage history.
I saw my name in lights before I even stepped into the office building on my first day. Almost four months after that day, I can sadly say that none of my dreams came true. I did not become famous, but I did learn some invaluable lessons about television production and the entertainment industry that gave me more insight on working in the real world than I ever could have imagined.
1. A ticking clock basically regulates everyone in the office, from producers to cameramen. Think about when you’re cramming for a test and freaking out about whether you’ll be able to study everything in time. Working for a daily news show, which is broadcast live in certain parts of the country, essentially means you’re under that same type of pressure every day. Segments of the show are often filmed on the day that they air, which means an intern might be given the great responsibility of bringing a tape from a shoot back to the office a mere hour before it’s supposed to be on TV. (I’d be lying if I said I never hurried across a street and into a cab, waving a tape frantically in my hand, a la Andie Sacks with a coffee from The Devil Wears Prada.) Once the tape arrives, it has to be heavily edited, which brings me to lesson #2…
2. Even the smallest parts of the show require hard work. And I mean REALLY hard work. You know those two-minute long, fast-paced videos of stories you see on the news and talk shows? Those are called packages. It can take over two hours to get even the shortest one just right. Editors have to not only find the pictures, videos, voiceovers, and more that go into these packages, but tweak and fix them to make sure they fit precisely within a given time limit. This process is often time consuming and tedious, but it’s worth it in the end when a package comes together and is ready for air.
3. Sets aren’t always as glamorous as you would expect. If you haven’t noticed by now, my expectations for my internship with Inside Edition were somewhat grandiose. I was shocked on the day when I was allowed to sit in-studio and watch the taping of the broadcast. It was simply the show’s anchor, Deborah Norville, standing in front of a greenscreen, and one cameraman, who directed her on where to look. Rather than being disappointed, I was impressed by just how fancy the show looks on TV compared to in-studio, which is a testament to the graphics department.
4. Nothing that has ever been recorded on tape is ever completely gone. Inside Edition had an extensive library of tapes of every celebrity interview, TV show, or major news event over the past 40 or so years. The day after Robin Williams’ death, I was faced with the sad, but necessary task of searching through old videos of the comedy legend for that day’s memorial show. Being able to pop tapes into a VCR (#tbt) and watch a chronological history of his career was a profound experience I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
5. The people who work on TV shows, both behind and in front of the camera, are regular people too. It’s an age-old stigma; people in the entertainment industry are snobby, selfish, and hungry for fame at all costs. From personal experience, I can tell you this is not at all true. Everyone on staff at Inside Edition was willing to work together for the purpose of putting together a great show. I did not notice any cutthroat competition in the office; just people willing to help each other, including me. I was never treated as a lowly intern. Everyone was always interested in my background and was more than willing to answer any of my questions.
I can only hope that the rest of my intern experiences are as eye-opening as this one, and that my former colleagues at Inside Edition remember me when I get my big break!