My name is Hadia Bakkar and I am rising political science major with a double minor in history and media and film studies. This summer I had the opportunity to intern with the Times Union, the regional newspaper of the Capital District, located in Albany, and the organization for World Peace (OWP), a nonprofit organization interested in conflict resolution through peaceful measures. Both of these publications, enabled me to experience the life of a journalist, locally and internationally. Throughout the summer, I was able to reflect on the assignments that I was given and see how local and remote journalism intersect and differ.
The Times Union is truly astounding that has won many awards, state and national, and was named as New York’s “Newspaper of Distinction” on multiple occasions. I found the internship through my work at The Skidmore News and ended up working for the newspaper’s advisor, Jay Jochnowitz. At the Albany TU, I got my very first real journalism experience as I helped manage the TU commentary section and co-edited many opinion pieces with my supervisor, that made it to the Perspective section. I applied my knowledge that I obtained from my political science and media classes about local and international issues and the main causes behind them. In terms of writing, editing and proofreading, I was fortunate enough to apply the skills I already gained from being a staff writer at The Skidmore News, the official campus Newspaper. My supervisor took the time to teach me the basics about the process behind the production of the daily newspaper: including content, digital design, and print layout.
My favorite part of the internship was shadowing editorial and newsroom meetings. It gave me the opportunity to see the contrast between the production of the different sections of the paper, especially news, editorial, and features. But most importantly, I was able to observe and learn further about newsroom dynamics, the selection of stories on a daily basis, which are the most crucial aspects of the field of journalism. I have also gained a more nuanced understanding of the incredibly fast pace of newspapers and their different scoops. In addition, all the people I worked with, fellow journalists, were inspiring and tremendously intelligent. Each journalist I talked to inspired me because of their passion and dedication to their career that they see as being a public service as well.
As for the OWP, the organization has allowed me to gain important insights into conflict resolution that rejects violence and military action. Each week, I wrote two “current events” articles that focused on global issues. The practice has strengthened my writing skills and allowed me to develop strong research and reporting skills. Although I enjoyed learning and writing about issues around the world, the internship gave me a better understanding of the challenges that foreign correspondents face, especially when working remotely. I learned through being a correspondent that accurate information is hard to find and was able to practice objective reporting for a non-profit.
The summer experience fund has allowed me to gain great insights into my ideal future career. If it was not for the award, I would not have been able to afford to live in Saratoga Springs or Albany in the summer.