Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant


Internship, week 2

So last week I got one of my projects to the “show it to the boss” point. Supposedly it’s going live tomorrow. I will link then.

My story has been postponed until “official action has been taken” whatever that means. Oh, well.

I have 2 other projects to finish this week, plus a couple of long-term data projects, and the grapevine tells me I’m getting a new assignment today. This is good, cause I’m used to high-pressure deadlines and that hasn’t been the case so far.

Over the weekend I purchased Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson by UF’s very own Bill McKeen, as well as The Definitive Guide to Django: Web Development Done Right, by Adrian Holovaty and Jacob Kaplan-Moss.

I can’t wait for these to come in. I really want to continue to learn different programming languages and frameworks. My internet access at home right now consists of finding an open wireless network on my street and sitting outside with the mosquitoes, so some books will be really helpful.

If anyone wants to recommend other books or online resources, please do!


Internship: week the first

I gave my impressions from the first day or so of work, but a full (sort of) week has given me more time to get acquainted with my new job.

I’ve worked on several projects, thought none of them are quite ready to go live yet. I’ll link to them when they do. But so far the work has been pretty easy and well within my skills. I was surprised at how much Flash I remember, even though I haven’t touched the program in over a year.

I’m also working on a story for next week! I pitched this one myself, and while its nothing big, I’m happy to be writing. My greatest fear is being pigeonholed into the programming room.

I’m supposed to see about some database work in the next week or so, which will be something new to add to my arsenal. I know how databases work and how to work with them, but I’ve never actually built one.

On the side, I’m continuing to work through Django tutorials and plan on buying some books soon. I’m also in the market for a job after my internship is over.

I’ve got a couple of posts coming up that should be more stimulating, but I’ve been too busy to really organize my thoughts yet. Here’s hoping I can get one or two out next week.


Small fish, big pond

So I’m a day and a half into my internship at The Miami Herald. I am a “multimedia intern.”

It’s a little gloomy around here, but most of that is rain. People are starting to make jokes about the cuts and motivation still seems high. Then again, I didn’t see much of the newsroom before Monday, so I don’t really have any basis for comparison.

I was afraid of the changes I would face in moving from a managerial position at a small paper to a flunky at a huge paper. I shouldn’t have worried. Even though the newsroom here is enormous, the online group is pretty small. I’m a medium-sized fish in this room.

Yesterday I built a little sidebar for a page on the site and today I’m working on a page for a series of stories. So far I’m being handed assignments and then pretty much left to myself to get them done. Just the way I like to work.


Comment Inspired: Job Descriptions

About a week ago this comment showed up here on my blog:

“I’d like to learn more about the process to publish at a professional epaper, about functions and tasks of reporter, sub-editor, IT technician, web master… Could you tell me about those? Tks”

I’ve spent the last week trying to define these different jobs, and I’m not satisfied with what I came up with. Every newspaper seems to function differently, especially as far as publishing online goes.

Anyone want to chip in some descriptions?


Writing from Berlin!

So, after having dropped off the face of the cyberearth for a few weeks, I’m resurfacing in Berlin. I’m taking a Photojournalism class with Professor Freeman and some other students from UF.

And by the way, yes, I did manage to graduate! It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I’m sure some day it will. My move to Miami was anything but graceful, but everyone involved survived.

So I’m in Berlin for 2 weeks, then back to Miami for my internship. I’ll start uploading photos tomorrow and blogging about my experiences here.

So far, I’ve managed to get from the airport to my hotel, find food and walk 3 miles. And realize that my German is even more atrocious than I thought. I can read pretty well, but forget the rest.

This city has more graffiti than any other place I’ve ever been. Some of it is even extremely artistic, as opposed to just scribbles on the wall. Unfortunately, I wasted most of the daylight hours recovering from bouncing from plane to plane for 15 hours, but tomorrow I’ll be out and about bright and early. (Could I get anymore cliches in there?)


Applied Interactive Newspapers

The online capstone course, Applied Interactive Newspapers, is built to work like an internship.

There are 6 students in the class this semester. Each of us is responsible for pulling in 7 stories each week, from The New York Times or AP wire.

These stories are published on Newszine, the Interactive Media Lab’s news Web site.

Recently, in addition to the 7 stories, we were assigned a multimedia requirement. Each week, 2 Soundslides and 2 videos will be published to the site along with our stories, with labor divided among the staff.

It was my turn to do a video this week. I chose to do a video tutorial for using Soundslides. I wrote out my script and talked to my partner, Matt Gonzalez, about the shots. We set the camera up and also set the editing computer up for screen-casting.

Then I did my thing. I’m not particularly pleased with the outcome. I get massive stage fright as soon as the camera’s watching, even though I’m only on the screen for a few seconds.

But I learned a lot from this. I should have run through my actions a few times before I did it for the camera. It also could have done with a little more editing.

In any case, I’m learning a lot about video and editing, so by the time I graduate I should be pretty good at this.


Post-graduation plans

My plans for this summer just got more interesting.

I got an e-mail yesterday notifying me that I could do a photojournalism study abroad program in Berlin! I’ve wanted to go on this trip for some time, but it was always full when I got around to checking on it. This time I got lucky; it was my last chance because I am graduating this semester.

I’ve been to Spain and Costa Rica, and my parents took me to Japan when I was 1. Here’s to another ridiculously long flight.

During the week after I get back from Berlin, I’m moving back to Miami. Hopefully, the people my parents leased the house to when they moved to Costa Rica will be out by then. I’ll be attending the IRE Conference and then starting my internship at The Miami Herald.

After that, who knows? But life after college is looking better and better.


Three days of heels

Though it’s been 6 years since I walked into high school for the first time wearing ragged jeans and my younger brother’s T-shirt, my taste in clothing hasn’t changed. I’m most comfortable in the shirt and jeans that have gone through the washer so many times they hang together by three threads.

Which is one of the explanations for why last weekend was so challenging.

On Thursday, I had job/internship interviews with The Miami Herald and The St. Petersburg Times. An event that requires the full pantsuit and heels. The interviews went very well, in fact, the best I’ve had yet.

Friday evening was the cocktail event for the Alligator’s 2nd Century Celebration. A little less formal, but military boots paired with a skirt: Not cocktail material. I met some really interesting people and I had a great time, but at midnight I was really glad to walk home in my socks.

Then on Saturday, the Celebration was in full swing. As the new media managing editor, I had to sit up on the dais. I know everyone was too busy talking and eating to look at me, but I’m not the most graceful eater…so I kept my mouth shut.

My parents would be delighted to learn that I’ve finally entered the realm of professionalism, I can dress myself without being an embarrassment and I’ll keep the heels on until midnight. (Which is when I assume everyone is too tired or inebriated to look at my feet.)

I understand that appearances matter and that I’ll never get rid of the heels for good. As one of my professors pointed out: I’d hate to lose a good job to a moron who dressed up because I dressed down. But I don’t have to like it.

This week, I ran into a professor who had seen all three versions of “dressed-up me.” “Now, there’s the Megan I recognize.” As much as I look forward to life after college, I’ll enjoy my jeans and t-shirts as long as I can. Mom always did warn me not to grow up too fast.


Journalism Conferences

Last weekend I flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the National Writer’s Workshop. It’s a two-day series of lectures by writers and journalists covering “interview skills, crafting story ideas, the legal responsibilities of writers and writing techniques.”

I was a little disappointed in the lectures. Although “Dirty old men, low rent crooks and the book of Proverbs works: How getting people to talk will help you gather the reporting to write a narrative investigation,” (that’s a really long title!) presented by Manny Garcia of the Miami Herald, and a few others were very interesting and helpful to student journalists, most of the lectures seemed to be aimed at getting a book published or introducing online journalism concepts to those of the print orientation. I stopped in all of the online journalism lectures, but they were mostly aimed at newbies.

I did have interviews with The Miami Herald, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and the Associated Press, but they turned out to be more like information sessions (how to apply for this particular internship with this particular organization) than actual job interviews.

But I didn’t don the monkey suit for nothing. I’m seriously applying for multimedia internships (or jobs) with The Miami Herald and AP.

Next week I’ll be heading out to SNDBoston, which promises both educational and networking opportunities, plus a chance to visit with some of my northern friends. I’m particularly excited that Adrian Holovaty and Brian Storm will be there.


What the !@#$ is a community journalist

I’m getting pretty close to graduating, and so have been trolling the journalism job sites looking at job descriptions and employers. One of the job titles I see pop up pretty often is that of “community journalist.”

Now hold on a second…isn’t a journalist supposed to report on the happenings of his or her community? Isn’t that the whole point?

From a job description:

We cover stories ranging from local government to business profiles, features and school news, all with an eye toward real people. Our style is to engage our readers in solving community problems.

Yup, that’s what journalists do.

Another one:

This newspaper’s award-winning staff has gained national attention during the past year for its commitment to putting “community” back into journalism, and building a newspaper that its customers consider a “must read.”

When did community ever leave journalism? Is this a reaction to the hyper-local discussion?
Every journalist is reporting on a community. Be it a neighborhood, a city, county, state, country, these are all communities.

Buzzwords are silly.