Day 23: Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Another long day of logging…I had to take an extended lunch break to clear my mind halfway through my shift. I felt great once I finished, though. Susan would not stop telling me how appreciative she was for all the hard work I’ve done for her lately. I really do enjoy working for her.

Here’s a link to read and watch the “yo-yo” loan story I did all the logging for! It’s very informative, and I think all car buyers should learn about this type of financing car dealers can try to sneak up on them with.

Day 22: Monday, April 25, 2016

My shift started with Susan apologizing to me. She had received a new story assignment on “yo-yo” car loans a few days after my last shift, and the story was going to air on Thursday. However, she still needed to log all of the b roll and phone conversations between the car dealer and car buyer involved while going out for interviews and filming. My job was to log the dialogue. This took up all nine hours of my shift. I understand why Susan apologized in advance, though I really didn’t mind. The only thing I didn’t like was having to log in a dark video editing room with no source of natural sunlight. Other than that, I was happy to do the work.

Later that night, it began to storm extremely hard. It was so bad, I had to stay in a nearby hotel instead of driving back to East Lansing for the first time all semester. Fortunately, this gave me an opportunity to get a solid seven hours of sleep before my next shift, so I was fine with it!

Day 21: Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The business Susan called after I told her about some information I found on them Facebook a couple of weeks prior called her back asking who she was and why she called. She explained who she was and that she’s with WOOD TV8, which made the business owners feel relieved. Apparently, they have been receiving nasty phone calls and death threats since some information about them was published on Facebook earlier in the month. I then spent the rest of the day looking for updated information not the company and the person who called them out on social media. This took me a while, but I was able to compile a lot of good information on the subject and emailed it to Susan. She said she will still look into it in a few weeks, after our big story is finally aired.

I love investigative reporting! I think I have found my niche in journalism…

Day 20: Monday, April 18, 2016

Susan had me make multiple copies of many of the court cases we had been researching over the past few weeks to give to other reporters, including Marlee and Heather, so they could help us with contacting potential sources. This took a while, but I was happy to do it. I made copies for myself and highlighted all of the parties mentioned in each court case so that Susan had those names quickly on hand. I then looked up more names of minors related to the cases online. I also compiled links to past news stories on our topic and emailed them to Susan. We’re trying to get an idea of how much media exposure these cases have received over the past few years. Some of the cases were only mentioned in their court documents online, but other cases were heavily covered in the news back when those events occurred. I even looked up some of the people on social media to confirm we had the right names/information.

Lesson learned: Unless you want the press to easily find information on you, make your social media accounts private if you have been accused of doing something wrong and/or are/were involved in a serious court case. It’s amazing how easy it is to find information on people thanks to social media and the Internet.

Day 19: Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Susan let me go to both the morning and afternoon news meetings because I hadn’t attended any in a while. She also let me take time off work to set up an appointment with a nearby Sam’s Club to get a new car. I couldn’t drive my spare tire another 60+ miles back to East Lansing, and Sam’s Club’s Tire Center would be closed by the time my shift would end at 6:30 p.m., so my lunch break was my only chance. Fortunately, the Tire Center had room for me to come in at 1:00 p.m., so I spent 2.5 hours of my work day at Sam’s Club. My lunch breaks normally last about an hour, but Lisa was okay with me taking a longer break than usual under the circumstances. I spent the last couple of hours doing miscellaneous work, including refiling documents and submitting a few FOIA requests for Susan.

This had been a hectic week…I went straight to bed after I got home and ate dinner.

Day 18: Monday, April 11, 2016

I ended up not going to work the previous Tuesday because I started vomiting and my nose was bleeding heavily again, but both were much worse than the day before. I emailed Lisa saying I wasn’t coming (I didn’t even know when my nose was going to stop bleeding and at that point I was already going to be late for work). She excused me for the day. I didn’t start to feel better until a couple of days later.

However, I felt completely back to normal the following week. I even discovered a potential future news story for Target 8 over the weekend! I showed Susan what I had found (on Facebook, of all places…) and gave her the contact information of the business in West Michigan involved. She called the business to confirm what I had found. She said she would further look into it after our big story was complete in May, but asked me to also do some preliminary research for her.

Right then, Troy, one of the assignment editors, came up to us to give Susan a new assignment that would be due in the week. We jumped right into researching the topic. I spent the rest of the evening researching my new topic and emailing the information to Susan.

For a student journalist, there’s no better feeling in the world than being told you found a story idea that’s worthy of being published or broadcasted by a professional news outlet. I hope this is the case with me!

Driving back home was awful because my back passenger-side tire busted on the highway. I had to wait more than an hour for roadside assistance to put on my spare tire. I’ve been asking my parents for years to please teach me how to change a tire, and they still haven’t taught me. I was not in the best of moods by the time I got back to East Lansing. I took a two-hour nap before I had to get ready to drive back to Grand Rapids for my next shift…

Day 17: Monday, April 4, 2016

I woke up feeling sick. Around 10:00 a.m., my nose bled heavily while I was vomiting. I vomited a couple of times. It was strange because until then, I hadn’t had a nosebleed in several years. Also, my nose had never bled while vomiting before. Turns out, the heavy pressure to the head and spike in blood pressure caused by vomiting can cause nosebleeds, especially if the weather is dry.

Anyway…I still didn’t have to wake up for another couple of hours (I try to sleep in as much as possible before my Monday afternoon shifts because I know I won’t get much sleep before my Tuesday morning shifts). However, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to go to work under my current condition. I tried to look up WOOD TV8’s phone number on my iPhone, but I accidentally fell back asleep before I could dial the number. I woke up again when my alarm went off, but at that point, I figured it was too late to call in sick. So I showered, ate a very light lunch of toast and honey, and left. I brought a thermos of hot tea with honey to drink during my hour-long drive to Grand Rapids.

When I arrived, I told Susan what happened to me earlier in the day, and she told me I should have just called in sick anyway despite being at the last minute. I know she was right…I just don’t like to miss work and possibly give the impression that I’m deliberately skipping.

Susan and I met with Marlee Ginter, one of the 24 Hours News 8 at 10 and 11 co-anchors, and Heather Walker (the reporter I visited the golf course with on Day 2), to discuss the story we had been working on over the past few weeks. We decided to split the cases by colored category with each reporter so that they could start conducting their own research and contacting potential sources for interviews. I explained how everything was organized so they know where to look for their court cases. At this point, the court cases went from being strictly alphabetized to being alphabetized by colored category. Susan has a clear vision of how she wants Target 8 to report the story, but it might take at least three days to report everything on TV.

After the meeting, I helped Susan research another (much smaller) story she had recently been assigned to cover. It only took a couple of hours. I spent the rest of my shift doing miscellaneous research for our big story and emailed the information to Susan before I drove back to East Lansing.

Day 16: Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Susan and I spent all morning calling police stations to get more information about particular cases that were in their jurisdiction. Some stations gave us the information we need over the phone, but other stations told us we needed to submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and who/where to send those requests to. Susan wrote a sample FOIA request and left blanks at spots so that we can fill them with particular name/address/timeline/etc. for each request. This saved more time than writing a new individually FOIA request every time. Susan emailed some of the FOIA requests while I faxed the rest. I now feel confident with submitting FOIA requests. I originally thought they were a formal process, but they can be as informal as sending a casual email. This is great information to know because I guarantee I will have to submit many FOIA requests in the future as a reporter.

After we finished submitting the FOIA requests, Susan and I started looking for names of minors related to certain cases we’re researching. Some of the names were easy to find online, but other names required more digging and submitting additional FOIA requests for us to find them.

I’m a little frustrated that I still can’t say what the story is, but trust me when I say it’ll be a good one as long as we keep up with thorough researching. I think it’s an important topic that many people will find relevant to their lives. That’s all I’ll say on the matter for now…

Day 15: Monday, March 28, 2016

I was helping Susan read into specific court cases. I’d look up more information online for her while she read the documents, and I’d pull the cases from the large bin where we had been storing all of the court cases. It was a pain the neck, so I suggested we use a filing cabinet to store all of the court cases, with a new folder for each alphabet and a miscellaneous folder. She like the idea, so I went to the storage room to gather some folders and labels. This little project of mine took about an hour or so, but it was worth all the time we started saving from there on out. After Susan finished gathering more information about the certain court cases, I helped her find the phone numbers and addresses of specific police stations in those cases’ areas. Unfortunately, the police stations were already closed by the time we were ready to start making phone calls, but this also meant we had a set schedule for the following day. I spent the rest of my shift organizing the pulled out cases and put them in a separate folder so that we’d already have them on hand the next morning. I also looked for more court cases pertaining to our topic online, just in case we missed any by accident. I found one, so I printed out the court case information, filed it alphabetically with the other cases and added its information to the Excel spreadsheet with the appropriate color label.

The days have been going by much faster since I started working with Susan. I think I like investigative reporting!

Day 14: Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The project I’m helping Susan work on is for Target 8. This is the first time I have ever worked with investigative reporting, and I quickly learned that it’s a much heavier and more tedious research process than traditional news stories. A large chunk of the time is organizing the information, whether it’s via an Excel spreadsheet, file folders, bullet list on Microsoft Word etc., or even a combination of them. Sure, it might sound like the intern is organizing while the reporter is doing the research, but that’s not the case at all. Susan and I were working equally on organizing everything for her project. This particular day was entirely focused on a list of cases filed into an Excel spreadsheet. Susan alphabetized the list and included names, addresses and details of the cases. I color-coded all the cases into different categories and labeled how many cases were in each category. This took up our entire day. I stayed at work two hours after my shift was supposed to end to make sure I finished my assignment. I don’t mind, though, because I enjoyed doing it. This assignment also helped me remember names of specific cases and where to locate them for whenever we would need to locate them in the near future. Once we’re done organizing, Susan can finally start contacting people for interviews and writing the story. I can’t wait to see what the final product will be!