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Job Shadows Get Behind-The-Scenes Look At Working Life Of A Journalist

February 7, 2014 by John Rook

Each year, The Cheshire Herald agrees to participate in the Cheshire High School Job Shadow program.
Designed to allow student the opportunity to get a sense of what really happens in the working world, and see professionals working in careers in which they might be interested, the shadows spend the morning/afternoon observing individuals as they go about their daily working routine.
This year, two job shadows came to The Cheshire Herald to learn what life is like at a weekly newspaper. Afterwards, the students were asked to write about their experiences and what they may have learned:

Abigail Rapillo

All my life I have loved to write, and I like learning and gathering information, so journalism seems like a good path to take. After shadowing at The Cheshire Herald as part of the schools Job Shadow program, I am even more convinced that this is the job for me. I got to go all over town and learn about the important relationships a reporter has to develop in order to succeed, and the atmosphere of an interview.
I had always imagined interviews to be much more regimented and formal, but they all resembled social conversations one might have with a friend. I also learned these face-to-face interactions are not always how things are done. Phones and email have made communicating and gathering information much easier. Emailing and phone calls are the easiest way to contact people because you can call them up for a few minutes to get their opinion instead of waiting for a traditional in person interview — or you can send them an email and they can respond at a time that is convenient for them.
There is so much to learn about and being a journalist allows you to see into little parts of many different jobs. During the day, I was able to visit to the police station, the Superintendent's office and the Town Hall. These are three very different locations with very different roles in the community. Each, however, contributed a lot of information, and I tried to keep up and understand everything they were saying.
At the Town Hall, while interviewing the Town Manager, I tried to understand how taxes work and how the budge is pieced together. I could see how important it is to take notes because there were a lot of numbers and complex details that go into putting together a budget.
As a journalist, you have to write objectively. Not allowing your opinions to sneak through into your writing is important, but also keeping an article interesting has to be a priority. Even if the topic is boring to you, you have to make it interesting. This can be hard if it is a topic you do not understand, or find uninteresting. In journalism, it is important to keep any story interesting, but it can be harder for certain topics.
During the day, I learned that you need to have many skills as a journalist. Reporters have to proofread each other's work, not just the editor. Being able to navigate the Internet and create or update websites is also important. Having lots of skills can help when it comes to finding a job.
I also learned a lot of important tips for succeeding in the field of journalism. Building relationships and being able to make topics interesting are just a few of the things I learned during the day. I also realized how much flexibility and movement there is in the job. It is not just siting behind a desk typing in front of a screen all day. You have to travel all over at all different times to gather the information needed for a good article before sitting behind the desk and writing.

Jackson T. Ajello

On Wednesday February 6, The Cheshire Herald, in collaboration with the Cheshire High School Job Shadow program, welcomed two students in order to gain onsite experience. The two aspiring journalists joined Herald staff member Michael Torelli on multiple interviews.
The students were able to witness multiple relationships between sources and the proper way to go about building a healthy one. Torelli brought the students to interview local figures such as Cheshire Police Lieutenant Jim Fasano, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Greg Florio and Town Manager Michael Milone. While visiting with the local figures, Torelli gave the students insight into how to conduct oneself while performing interviews. The students witnessed how a reporter and political figure can coexist in order to serve a collective purpose.
The Police Lieutenant, Superintendent of Schools and Town Manager all expressed respect for Torelli. This healthy relationship allows these local political figures to give Torelli the information he needs to report a story accurately. Torelli taught the students that the most important thing is to give the readers an objective account of the story. This was something those interviewed throughout the day agreed with, saying they knew the role of the reporter and did not have an issue with him when he gave a fair account of the story to his readers.
As the students' day progressed they witnessed how to meet and greet prominent local figures, seeing the manner in which Torelli interacted with the subjects of his interview.
Torelli showed the students that a reporter must build relationships with his or her sources in order to discuss sensitive issues. Both the reporter and the source have an agenda and must try to help each other to reach the collective goal of informing the people. Each of the interviewees had glowing remarks regarding the professional nature of the relationship they have built with Torelli as a reporter. Each source spoke to Torelli’s advice regarding the importance of reporting a fair and accurate account of an event. All of the sources believed that Torelli had done his job in reporting a factual account of information given to him.
Both Torelli and his sources had solid relationships allowing them to discuss local issues, such as budgeting and bulk trash pickup day. The experience the students gained, even with only a single day of shadowing, was invaluable to their knowledge of how reporters are to conduct themselves in the field.

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