Story by Shirley Chan
Editor’s note: This is the first in a five-part series of posts written by Charles Snowden Excellence in Journalism interns. Read the next post in the series, “How the Baker City Herald helped me escape my bubble” by Forrest Welk.
At the SOJC, I learned to cultivate my T-shaped skills. The horizontal bar of the T-shape represents competency in a range of skills, while the vertical bar represents mastery in one skill in particular.
Since June, I’ve had the amazing opportunity of being a Snowden intern working as a digital production assistant for Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), where my T-shaped skills have translated into the content I create. OPB is a television and radio public broadcasting network as well as a multi-platform news site — emphasis on multi-platform.
I don’t get nervous easily, but on my first day at OPB, my palms were sweaty, my knees were weak and my arms were heavy. I’ve never related so deeply to Eminem before that moment. And of course, things were fine. It felt like everyone just wanted to be my friend. I had a conversation with the head of the OPB HR department, who said, “People in public media are always willing to help.” Boy, was he right!
My typical day working in the digital department consists of managing web content and engaging our audience in new ways, most of the time by using a variety of platforms to tell stories. I’ve always leaned more toward strictly visual journalism, but getting so much practice telling stories on different platforms has inspired me to expand my storytelling capabilities. During this internship, I’ve covered everything from nude bike rides to #BlackLivesMatter protests to music festivals.
I call myself a multimedia storyteller, and I’ve had the pleasure of living up to that title at OPB, from the articles I write to the photos and the videos I’ve created. Early on, I learned that everyone does a little bit of everything, and I realized how important it was for me as an intern to show that I can do that too. This was my first professional newsroom setting, and I couldn’t mess up. Deadlines are short. Turnarounds are fast. People are quick on their feet.
On my first day, I overheard a conversation about a possible event to cover that upcoming weekend. Without hesitation, I said, “I’ll cover it!”
That was the moment I set a standard for myself, and I’ve stuck with it. I went out by myself, covered that event and turned around a written piece with photos within hours.
The following week, I was assigned a social video following a Portland Public Schools press conference. I created that video in a day, without ever having done an explainer video like it before. Soon enough, I was producing social videos every other week. My latest video, about 2016 Oregon Corgi Beach Day, has generated over 100,000 views.
Most of the time I’m in the field by myself and have only a few hours to turn around a piece, usually an article and photos. Transitioning from having weeks to produce videos to days to produce articles or short videos has been the best learning experience for me.
Even though I prefer photos and videos to words, I’ve considered becoming a beat reporter one day. I’m leaning toward the tech beat, maybe in the near future.
After my time is up at OPB in two weeks, I’ll be continuing my studies abroad in Morocco, where I am participating in SIT Study Abroad Journalism and New Media fall program.
While I’ll certainly miss working at OPB, I know I’ll carry all that I’ve learned with me to my next journalistic venture. I’m not sure what I’ll be covering yet, but I know I’m ready to take anything on.
Shirley Chan is a multimedia storyteller who plans to graduate from the SOJC in winter 2017. This summer, she is working as a digital production assistant at Oregon Public Broadcasting as a 2016 Charles Snowden intern. Previously, she has worked as the video editor for the student-produced iPad publication OR Magazine, an assistant editor at the Eugene-based production company AO Films, a multimedia producer for the web edition of Flux magazine, and an advocacy content developer at an Accra-based NGO called Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights through the SOJC’s Media in Ghana program. She is also a map fanatic, concert fiend, overpriced coffee connoisseur and music enthusiast. You can view her work at www.shirleychan.net and follow her on Twitter @shrlychn and Instagram @shcha.