Inside the Times as a Fellow: Some lessons about journalism I picked up.

From an Inside the Times story by Danielle Allentuck headlined “Lessons in Reporting and Life”:

Last June, two weeks after I graduated college, I walked into The New York Times Building for the first time. I was one of 23 members of The Times’s inaugural fellowship class, a one-year program aimed at developing the next generation of journalists. In a collection of essays online, you can read about some of the paths that we took to get to The Times and what we’ve learned. Once here, we were stationed throughout the newsroom. . . .

I worked as a general assignment reporter on the Sports desk. In my role, I wrote about the top draft pick of the Jets, profiled the gymnast Simone Biles and covered spring training. Along the way, I learned how to be game for anything. But here are a few other lessons I picked up.

Ask for help
I learned that there is no shame in asking for help, whether it’s directions to the locker room or the time a coach is scheduled to talk to the news media.

 My colleagues were extremely patient and willing to answer any dumb question I posed. They taught me important things like when to let a source go off the record. I showed them how to do calculations in Excel spreadsheets.

Don’t let you age define you
I was always the youngest person at assignments and often the only woman. I learned how to be confident and stand my ground. When I asked a fan at a Mets game if he would be willing to be interviewed, he told me he couldn’t talk to me because I was “like 12.” I promptly replied: “Geez, that’s so rude. I turned 13 last week.” I kept walking and soon found the perfect person to interview for my story. . . .

Age is just a number. If you’re hired to do a job, do it.

Adapt to limitations
I was supposed to spend the entire spring working on features and covering baseball. That changed, of course, when sports stopped because of the pandemic. I returned to my parents’ house when the coronavirus hit. Working from home, after I had been gone for five years, was an adjustment. I interviewed athletes from my childhood bedroom and covered the N.F.L. draft from my parents’ basement.

It was difficult — I had no idea where to look for story ideas or how long the break was going to last. I also had to learn how to conduct thorough interviews over the phone since I couldn’t do them in person. The trick, reporters taught me, is to just keep asking questions.

Make work fun
My first deadline story was about Aaron Judge’s return to the Yankees lineup. To say I was nervous would have been an understatement. James Wagner, the Yankees beat writer for The Times, advised me to write parts of the article before arriving at the stadium so I would have more time to add quotes and other details later. That tip has saved me many times since then. . . .

I spent hours watching sidearm and submarine pitchers perfect their craft at a training camp in Durham, N.C. I even got to throw a bullpen session. Back in New York, as I worked on edits for the article, I got into a lively debate about arm angles and technique with my colleagues. Soon, we were standing in the middle of the newsroom demonstrating how we would each approach the pitch.

I had the most fun getting to know the other fellows. We collaborated on stories and spent our free time helping one another learn new skills.

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