It’s not an uncommon desire to see your name in print. Little did I know that mine would be a byline, right there in black and white (and read all over) when I began my summer internship at The Jewish Link. More than just a fly on the wall of the newsroom, I was in the center of it all—experiencing Mondays’ calm as it rose to a crescendo on Wednesdays, right before the paper was sent off to the printers, and then slowing back down on Thursdays to start the cycle over again.
Far from being your stereotypical coffee-making and paper-fetching intern, I have been a member of the staff (major takeaway: when requesting an interview, don’t ever refer to yourself as an “intern”). Discussions about where to place things in the layout, when to publish a piece and to whom to assign coverage of an upcoming event buzzed around the office as I sat at my desk, pounding away at the keys on my laptop.
Elizabeth Kratz, associate publisher and editor, and Jill Kirsch, senior editor, assigned me numerous pieces, making sure that I was never bored from lack of projects. At the Thursday morning editorial meetings, Moshe Kinderlehrer, co-founder and co-publisher, and Elizabeth listened to my pitches and helped me refine my ideas into what would become newsworthy articles. Everyone here walked me through the ins and outs of journalism, guiding me along the learning curve.
Already in my first week at The Jewish Link, a recipe I wrote was published, a dream come true for a foodie like myself, and one that was repeated more than once. With each passing week I felt a huge sense of accomplishment, knowing that the words that I thought of and proceeded to put down on the page were really there, in print. There was no need to pinch myself and check if I was dreaming when people at shul told me they read, skimmed or merely noticed what I had written that week while perusing the newspaper.
The pen may be mightier than the sword, but this time my laptop proved triumphant. Although I prefer to take interview notes on my phone, I learned you need to have a notebook if you want to look the part of a reporter.
Over the course of six weeks my writing improved. I honed my proofreading skills, learned the AP style of writing and some basics of copy editing, as well as that it only takes 10 minutes to walk from my house to the office. I interviewed more people than I thought I would in at least as many months. Thankfully people like to share their stories, which more than made up for my nerves the first couple of phone calls I made. With each question asked my confidence grew, and I got the chance to hear from many fascinating people, ranging from business owners to community members to contestants on national television!
The summer may be coming to an end, but my time as part of The Jewish Link is not. With an intern experience that surpassed anything I expected, I have been both a part of the literal Jewish Link, as well as a figurative link that keeps the chain of Jewish people together, sharing in the joys and the sorrows, and spreading news of it all.
Sara Linder is a JLNJ summer intern. She is a Teaneck resident and a student at the University of Maryland-College Park.