Internship Update 4

Dear Reader,

The Tribune has moved me quickly from Features to the weekly suburban papers, to the business desk, front-page desk, and the nation+world desk.

I’m simultaneously on suburban, business, front-page, and nation+world now, and it’s much faster paced here. With the last three desks, there is always a deadline coming up in a few hours and the work you put out that day is printed that night.

There has been a spoken promise that I will be able to design the front page of the Chicago Tribune by the end of my internship — that, I cannot wait for. For now, though, I’m still learning about design, news judgment, and how the entire process works. There’s plenty to learn.

In other news, these past few days, I have been in conversation with the reporter, Manya Brachear, who broke the Wheaton health insurance story* on Tuesday. Of course, I would have broken it on The Wheaton Record’s website, but unfortunately, the administration told us we’re not allowed to post any stories on our website over the summer. I’m trying to communicate with the administration about lifting the ban, but they’re not very easy to get in contact with.

On the suburban desk, I’ve been put in charge of designing the news and features sections of The Doings La Grange and The Doings Western Springs, which makes up about 25 pages, each, of the 55-page suburban newspapers. It’s definitely a big responsibility, but the pace is a lot slower than the daily desks that I’m also a part of now.

I will be sure to post more of my designs in the coming days. Stay tuned!

*May need digital subscription to view — Google title to read similar story results.

Internship Update 3

Dear Reader,

Exciting news! I’ve finally got the green light to go ahead and publish my official Chicago Tribune designs, meaning you get to finally witness the fruits of my labor. (Click on that hyperlink to see them, or check above at the Menu tab, under “My Designs,” and “Chicago Tribune Designs.”)

Unfortunately, I can’t post every single design I make on my website, because I make so many designs. I’ve tried to include a few that I think are representative of my ability though.

My supervisor returned from his vacation, so I will be moving on from Features in the near future, it seems. Right now though, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to talk with Jonathon Berlin, a graphics editor at the Tribune who has gotten me very interested in a certain type of coding for journalism websites.

Along those lines, I’ve been learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and will start on Python. These languages are essential to web design, and I should definitely learn as much as I can to catch up with this new generation of web-conscious journalists who are coming up behind me.

These past few weeks, I’ve been able to talk to Gerry Kern, the editor of the Tribune, and various other high-up journalists who have been able to offer me great advice.

To end this update, here are some examples of my designs. You can check them all out under the “My Designs” tab up top!

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Internship Update — End of Week 2

Dear Reader,

Hey there! Thanks for sticking around — to reward you, I have many many updates.

First of all, I’ve been embedded in the Features section for these past two weeks, which includes the Home, Garden, Autos, Health, Pharmacy, and many more sections. It’s been crazy getting my designs published by the Chicago Tribune. I couldn’t ask for more.

I’ve also recently taken on the responsibility of designing the Weather page, on the days that I’m working. I’ve designed the Weather page three times (after today) and even though it’s hard to really mess it up, it still always feels like a big undertaking! The Weather page is consistently one of the most popular pages of the newspaper.

I’ve met three amazing coworkers here in the Features section, and they’ve taken me under their wings, helping me grow as a journalist and a designer in general. It’s actually a really cool thing to be mentored by real Chicago Tribune designers — and I’m going to be meeting more and more as I move throughout the sections!

So yesterday, the Chicago Tribune interns all had their first social day! We were led by Kevin Pang, one of the restaurant reviewers for the Tribune, who interned in 2003. It was really fun day, even though being around so many people all day pretty much took it out of me by the end.

Here’s a little bit of photo documentation of yesterday:

Kevin Pang sat us down to talk journalism and careers and to break the ice.
Kevin Pang sat us down to talk journalism and careers and to break the ice.
We went to the Billy Goat Tavern! Apparently, when the Chicago Sun-Times was still right across the river from the Tribune, all the journalists from both newspapers used to meet here halfway for dinner after work. So much history. The food was ok.
We went to the Billy Goat Tavern! Apparently, when the Chicago Sun-Times was still right across the river from the Tribune, all the journalists from both newspapers used to meet here halfway for dinner after work. So much history. The food was ok.
Oh, and the Tavern was also the setting of an SNL skit (I think). Cheeborger! No Pepsi — Coke!
Oh, and the Tavern was also the setting of an SNL skit (I think). Cheeborger! No Pepsi — Coke!
We transformed from Chicago natives working on Michigan Ave to tourists for two hours. Our tour guide was hilarious — apparently she was trained at Second City. Who woulda guessed?
We transformed from Chicago natives working on Michigan Ave to tourists for two hours. Our tour guide was hilarious — apparently she was trained at Second City. Who woulda guessed?
Our tour took us to the Cultural Center: a free, open space for everyone. There is only one rule: No sleeping.
Our tour took us to the Cultural Center: a free, open space for everyone. There is only one rule: No sleeping.
Our tour ended with a obligatory group picture in front of the Bean. Or Cloudgate. Or whichever.
Our tour ended with a obligatory group picture in front of the Bean. Or Cloudgate. Or whichever.
Next, we took the Red Line down to iO Theatre, to take a three-hour improv class and to watch an improv show!
Next, we took the Red Line down to iO Theatre, to take a three-hour improv class and to watch an improv show!

Interning at the Chicago Tribune Update: Newsgate and Training

Dear Reader,

Day 2 of interning at the Chicago Tribune is in the books.

What does my day look like?

Well, every morning at around 8 a.m., I get up to prep for the day (I could walk through every excruciating detail, but you would probably have better things to read), and catch the 9:54 train from Wheaton to Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago.

The bustling center of transportation. Auntie Anne's pretzels are right next to the trains. It's unfairly tempting. Note to self: buy nose plugs when approaching trains.
The bustling center of transportation. Auntie Anne’s pretzels are right next to the trains. It’s unfairly tempting. Note to self: hold nose when approaching trains.

I voluntarily hoof it over to the Tribune Tower, which is on Michigan Ave. The fact that I work on Michigan Ave is great because it’s safe, bustling and pretty, and it’s bad because going out to eat lunch probably means dropping a load of cash — something I don’t have a lot of right now. #collegeliving

When I get to the Tower, I navigate through the labyrinth that is the editorial floor to the design area and report to my supervisor, Chuck Burke. I’m interning with design and copy editing, so I will theoretically operate only on CCI Newsgate.

These past two days, I’ve been trained how to use Newsgate. It has come pretty quickly to me, mostly because I’m a very intelligent person. Just kidding. I’ve learned how to use Adobe InDesign, and though a few basic functions are different than InDesign, Newsgate still has the same goal as InDesign. That makes it easier to understand.

Some dummy designs I've made over the past two days. They're replicas of pages I found in the Tribune's past two days' papers. Pretty good, huh?
Some dummy designs I’ve made over the past two days. They’re replicas of pages I found in the Tribune’s past two days’ papers. Pretty good, huh?

Tomorrow, I’m supposed to start my first real published design with the Chicago Tribune, in their six-page Real Estate section. Though I know next to nothing about Real Estate, I’m excited to learn about it as I design!

Yay newspapers! Yay design!

Photo credit: Bernt Rostad, Mark Buehler, via 

P.S. By providing links to the Wikipedia pages of the news designing software, I’m not trying to insult your intelligence — I often ran into technical terms that everyone but I seemed to know when looking up things I should know as a journalist, and it’s just even easier, in my opinion, to give the links to the Wikipedia pages right off the bat. But whateves. 

WJI — Day 11: Super legit.

Dear Reader,

It’s hard to believe six months two weeks have already passed! But they have, and I’m grateful that they happened. I’ve learned a lot from this course — and it’s possible that I learned the most in one sitting today than I learned in any other singular class.

Drew Belz, one of the founders of fancyrhino — even their website is incredible — was our main instructor today. He was legit. His equipment was legit. Everything about today was legit.

After the essential philosophy in the beginning of his presentation, he got into the real nitty gritty stuff.

FYI, I was also wearing a white button down and army green pants today too ;)
FYI, I was also wearing a white button down and army green pants today too 😉

We learned a ton about how to create a story arc. That was really important because even though I took a Media Production class last semester — and I attended ALL the classes —  the philosophy went over our heads and the technical instruction was very meticulous. The idea of a story has a few elements that are really necessary to nail down.

1. A story should have an anecdote. Thomas Miller and I went out to shoot a short video with AJ Pyatt, a local street musician I wrote about before.  For our anecdote portion, AJ told us all about his best show, which turned out to be his most embarrassing show — when he broke a string, he tossed his guitar to his buddy offstage. He forgot that it was plugged into the sound system, so it hit the ground. While embarrassed, AJ told us that the crowd laughed, loosened up, and started to actually engage with him.

2. A story should have a moment of reflection. AJ has some really good, quotable moments in our interview. And at one point, he kills it when talking about the universal language of music: “It’s like saying ‘hello’ without actually saying ‘hello.'” *finger snap applause*

3, A story should have a “but” and a “therefore.” In spite of setbacks and in spite of embarrassing moments, AJ exudes expectation and happiness. It’s because of the way he chose to overcome parts of his situation that he is the person he is. Much respect, AJ.

Now, if I could find out how to post a video on here, that’d be really great…

WJI — Day 11: Speaking truth to power

Dear Reader,

First of all, sorry for not posting last night! It has been an insane night, ending with me stressing over the fact that J. Dennis Hastert was indicted for a hush money scheme, in a story that ended up on the front pages of major newspaper sites.

I guess, because Denny Hastert is closely affiliated with Wheaton, I should probably do a story on him. More details to follow.

Anyways! Today was a good day, even though it got stressful towards the end. In the morning, we polished our stories pulled from the Associated Press’ website. The beast is hungry, even in the morning.

During lunch, we heard from Susan Olasky, who has been sitting quietly in the back of the classroom nearly everyday. We didn’t know that she was probably the most epic person in the room. 

Susan Olasky wrote an investigative piece on the International Bible Society, which was secretly going to make the NIV Bible completely gender-inclusive. The basic problem with that is that World believes that people shouldn’t change the Bible for ideological reasons.

Well, Susan broke the story about it and got in a whole PR mess, which culminated in ethics charges against World. In the process, she was also named one of the year’s most influential Christians.

It takes a lot of courage to do what Susan did, and I really respect her for that. She stood up for something that she really believed in, and wasn’t afraid to uncover unfairness, even when Zondervan, the publisher of the NIV, was one of their major advertisers. Zondervan withdrew all its advertisements from World magazine. More respect.

Susan Olasky, being her epic self.
Susan Olasky, being her epic self.

The result was impressive. You can read about it online, so I’ll move on to what happened after lunch.

Here’s what we did.

The exciting desk of a student journalist.
The exciting desk of a student journalist.

Not sure if you can see it, but that paper is my book review. And I’m pretty sure my paper got marked up the most out of all the students. I learned a lot about book reviewing, and that is something that I think I can bring to The Record next year.

We ended the day in a park, listening to Lee Pitts’ stories from when he was embedded in Iraq. I don’t think that I’d ever be able to do the things he did.

The staff here at WJI is incredible.

WJI — Day 10: Feeding the Beast

Dear Reader,

Well, I can’t NOT mention it.

We are staying in a hostel, and while 99.9 percent of all the people we’ve been involuntarily bunking with have been genial, well-mannered people, there’s always an exception. Around 3 a.m. last night, we found ours, in the manner of a none-too sober guy vociferously reporting his thoughts to his bunkmates.

After Evan Wilt, who is now our class hero, asked them for silence, we returned to our restful slumber.

I had to say it, because that was pretty much the low point of the day. But without a low, there can’t be a high!

Our learning segment in the morning was very interesting. Despite the fact that I was plagued with emails and trying to sort out logistics with The Record, I managed to glean important parts from the lesson which was on cars.

No wait, sorry — CAR. Computer Assisted Reporting. In other words, how to use the Internet to help you report.

I’m not going to question where Mr. Pitts found all those websites — some information that he taught us to find I thought should sometimes stay hidden — but those websites will without a doubt help me muckrake.

For example, Mr. Pitts showed us how to run background checks on anyone we could get the name of.* Creepy, maybe, but helpful.

After that, we returned to the stories we were working on — mine was on the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooter, James Holmes’ case. It’s a really intriguing case. Unfortunately, I was stuck in an unfortunately timed deadline and couldn’t report too much, experiencing for the first time what reporters call the 24-hour news cycle, or “feeding the beast.” 

It was important that I experienced this, because I learned that I do not like feeding the beast. I do not like the beast at all. I’ve — hastily — formed the opinion that only a certain few websites should really be pumping out the dozens of stories that newsrooms feel so compelled to write, regardless of the day or hour. If all the news sources are saying the same thing, then what’s the point of repeating it again into the depths of the Web? But I understand it’s necessary and that World’s readers are looking for a specific angle on world events. I respect that.

Rant aside, I toured Asheville again in the afternoon, and decided upon the White Duck Taco Shop for dinner — once I learn how to write food reviews, I’ll tell you all about it. But for now, a picture will need to suffice:

That, ladies and gents, is a fish taco. Nothing special. Except for how amazing it was.
That, ladies and gents, is a fish taco. Nothing special. Except for how amazing it was.

*Don’t get overzealous on this site: It’ll ask you for money once you dig far enough. 

WJI — Day 9: Healing Scalpel

Dear Reader,

I woke up sore from yesterday’s soccer game. Enough said on that front.

Today, we started out by talking about features writing. Among many of the points raised was the fact that Christian journalists have the unique opportunity to be “the scalpel that heals,” and that we should be someone who reports harshly in order to bring about change for the better.

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, 

but the tongue of the wise brings healing. 

Proverbs 12:18

That hit close to home for me especially, with the memory of recent harsh reporting done at The Wheaton Record, and how in many ways, while we were definitely a scalpel at times, we neglected to bring about healing.

After we learned about feature writing, our classroom of 14 transformed into an operating newsroom as we adapted stories from AP’s website and called our own sources to write stories for the World website.

I wrote my story on the Aurora, Colorado, James Holmes (the man who shot up a Batman movie showing) death penalty case which is ongoing. I encountered my share of embarrassment, fumbling around legal terms while on the phone with Colorado lawyers.

Lesson learned: make sure you’re somewhat comfortable with the vernacular of the people you’re about to interview. 

Before heading to bed, I finished my book review on a great little read about sex. Fun!


Dear Reader,

I lied. That is, any hint that I might have given off that WJI is not fun was false.

WJI is fun.

I also lied to a few people who have been keeping up with me that WJI was all work, no play, even on Memorial Day. Sorry. Please forgive me.

While it’s true that we worked on our obituaries some more, we stopped at 4 p.m. and travelled to Kevin Martin’s house, the CEO/publisher of World Magazine for a North Carolina-style barbecue cookout.

Now, apparently — and this is news to me — barbecues mean different things depending on which part of the country you’re in. And in North Carolina, barbecue means pork.

Pulled Pork

Ok, that’s not that exact sandwich. (I found that image online. Shame on me for not bringing a camera.) But we did have delectable pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw, cooked up mostly by the generous Mrs. Martin (who I learned reads this blog!!! I’ve made it big!!!) .

We indulged in a little disc-tossing and soccer-playing, which resulted in sweat, blisters, and me wishing that I had brought some sneakers. I think that this very refreshing weekend and overall fun Memorial Day has recharged me and prepared me for another six days of hard work.

Two days ago, my journalism advisor at Wheaton emailed me, asking if I recommend the program to other Wheaton journalism students.

I think my answer is yes.

Guess it’s also true that you can win someone over with an amazing home-cooked meal!

If you haven’t already seen, check out photos of my past week here in Asheville, NC. You can see them here.


Photo credits to John B.B. Photos, at While the pulled pork sandwich in the photo looks great, I have to argue that Mrs. Martin’s was better.

WJI — Day 7: $2,000 worth of thread spotted on wall, photographer finds photo-op

Dear Reader,

Five days of hard work and then a weekend of rest, right? Not at WJI. Another 24-day means another 24 hours that we could be using to make another journalistic project!

In all seriousness, though, I am very glad that we undertook this project. That’s really only something that I can say now that I’m done with it.

Here’s what we did today:

1. In the morning, we had our general meeting at 9 a.m., and listened to each other’s radio pieces from the day before (the one with the attorneys — this will make a lot of sense if you’ve been following this blog for the past seven days) and critiqued them. Lesson learned: ambience audio is invaluable. It smooths transitions between studio and field clips, and it makes the entire piece more believable and easier on the ears.

2. We were assigned to create SoundSlides presentations (photographs with self-recorded audio overdubbing them) on subjects of our choosing. That gave us a lot of freedom. I visited the Kenilworth neighborhood, after hearing rumors of an art walk. I’ve never experienced an art walk before, so imagine my surprise when I was told we were supposed to enter people’s houses in search of their art. To be honest, it sounded like a huge invasion of privacy — and maybe it felt somewhat invasive to some residents — but I’m very glad that it was structured the way it was.

3. I stumbled across Kathleen Lewis, who I took pictures of and wrote about a little more in depth here. She welcomed warmly, and led me around her studio, excited to explain her business to a student journalist. In the process, I learned a good deal about the modern textile industry, the Asheville neighborhood, and I made sure to ask about the $2,000 worth of thread that I noticed on her wall. I took photos, asked questions, and might have even bought one of her wares for a special someone 😉 Here is a shot of her studio:

Kathleen's studio, complete with a very intimidating sewing machine.
Kathleen’s studio, complete with a very intimidating sewing machine.

4. Stumbling back around 4 in the afternoon, we began to compile our images, write our scripts for the SoundSlides presentations, and record our voiceovers. I’ll be honest — this process was very hard for me to complete, for various reasons. The editing was like none I’d experienced before, but I’ll attribute a lot of the slowness and frustration to my own lack of sleep and general impatience. Lesson learned: get sleep, be persistent and trust your editor. 

Once I figure out how to get media other than pictures up on this blog, I’ll happily upload my radio piece and this SoundSlides piece. Would love to get feedback on them!