By Bridgett Lynn
Over the past four months I have had the privilege of interning for BBC World News America (WNA) in Washington, DC. The BBC is a highly respected and massive news organization, so the idea of being their production intern for their live, nightly newscast was a dream to me. I landed the internship last fall after I contacted the editor of WNA, Kate Farrell, and was eager to experience something new for my last semester of college. What I got out of interning for WNA was everything I expected and more.
I began the internship in January and was thrilled to be part of the behind-the-scenes action of in-depth reports on the major international and US news of the day. On my first day there, I was welcomed by an energizing and exciting crew of BBC employees from a wide range of on-air news channels such as BBC Radio and BBC Arabic. As a bonus, the bureau is located only a half mile from GW's campus, which made getting to the internship from my classes a breeze.After the initial meet-and-greet, I started assisting the WNA team right away with researching guests for upcoming shows and various administrative duties. I was able to go on shoots with the executive producer, Ashley Semler, including one during my first few weeks at the BBC to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to get an inside scoop on Clayborne Carson's newest memoir, Martin's Dream.
One of my most memorable days working for WNA was when the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was announced dead. I arrived at the BBC around 2 PM that Tuesday, and it seemed like it was going to be another regular day at the office. Not long before pre-production for the 5 PM show, I went to the lobby of the BBC and met one of our scheduled guests Michael Shifter, the president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank on Latin America. Originally Shifter was going to be interviewed by WNA's anchor, Katty Kay, about the recent reports of Chávez's deteriorating health and speculation that someone may have deliberately infected Chávez with cancer.
Minutes before the show started, I watched the several television screens in the control room when Kay said from the newsroom studio that Chávez had died. I rushed to tell Shifter the news, and we had him set up for his interview earlier than planned. The show started slightly before schedule that night with a special "BREAKING NEWS" subtitle, and Kay interviewed Shifter about Venezuela and Chávez's legacy. I ran on adrenaline as I was sent back and forth from the control room to the news desk to deliver new information as it came in.
The rest of my time spent at the BBC consisted of researching, transcribing interviews including one with American author and poet Maya Angelou, meeting prominent figures like former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and using Twitter to promote upcoming shows. I was surprised every day by how much I learned at the BBC's DC bureau, and my internship for WNA has increased my knowledge of international reporting and television news production. I have had internships at other media organizations, including World Footprints Media, CBS Evening News, NBC Washington and Charlottesville Tomorrow, and I could not have asked for a better experience during my final semester at GW. I hope that I can use what I have learned and continue working in challenging media environments after I graduate in May.