Interning at Around the Horn

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Interning at Around the Horn
Apr 1, 2013

(Photo Credit: Randy Sager/ESPN)

Do you ever find yourself looking to unwind with some sports news and humor after a stressful day at work or school?

Then tune into ESPN at 5 p.m.

The opening graphics of colorful arrows and sports logos begin and all of sudden you’re greeted by the host, Tony Reali.

Joining Reali is a lively bunch of the most experienced and sometimes-controversial sports writers from across the country.

Now, imagine what it would be like to work for the show.

I was the production intern for ESPN’s show of competitive sports banter, Around the Horn during the 2012 Fall semester. It was the type of experience that allowed me to get through a tough week of classes, and one that any student would be lucky to have.

Prior to getting the internship with Around the Horn, I had gotten a lot of “advice” about starting small and not going after the big time networks because of the volume of applicants and competitiveness.

I decided to apply after seeing the posting on the show’s Facebook page anyway, and through some networking and lots of follow up, I was able to get the internship of my dreams.

My internship started mid-September and lasted until the last week of the semester before winter break. I reported to the ABC News office, where ESPN has offices for three of its television programs: Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption and Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable. The building is located in downtown D.C. and I was expected there at around 9 a.m. every Friday and other days I was available.

The first two hours or so in the office were devoted entirely to researching stories online and pitching ideas to the show’s producer, Aaron Solomon [Director of the Shirley Povich Center George Solomon's son] and associate producer, Josh Bard. The layout of the office fostered an environment of collaboration and teamwork.

We all worked in one large open space with computers facing each other, constantly exchanging ideas from all sides of the table, from producer to host all the way to intern. Then we would make a rundown, or list of stories in segment blocks (A1, A2, B1, B2, B3, etc.) and build the structure of the show. We also looked for quirky sports news, which allowed the panelists to have some fun during the show.

Some of the most popular sources for the show were ESPN.com  – and it’s city-specific sites like New York and Los Angeles — NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football and Pro Basketball Talk, Yahoo! Sports Network, Grantland, The Big Lead, Sports Illustrated, SB Nation, major newspapers and others.

As prospective journalists, it is crucial to read the news daily and keep up with as many current events as possible. I learned just how important it is to stay connected to the news, and realized that being in the know put me at an advantage to be able to contribute at my internship. Someone who was always well connected to the news and knew where to find it was the show’s researcher, Khaleelah PoRome.

One of the most efficient ways to keep track of all of these news sites, I found, was to follow them all on Twitter and keep a close eye on the feed. Twitter is an incredibly useful tool for journalists, since they can both track news stories, post their own work and disseminate other trending stories.

The entire Around the Horn editorial team actively checks Twitter throughout the morning, which is crucial for breaking news stories. I’ll never forget the morning when the show’s executive producer, Erik Rydholm, walked into the office and said that NBA coach Mike Brown had been fired by the Los Angeles Lakers. The story immediately replaced whatever was in the A1 segment of the show, and it was up to all of us to follow the story on social media the rest of the day.

There were certain days in which we focused on certain types of sports news more so than others. For example, Fridays during the fall usually consisted of a number of NFL game preview stories for the weekend matchups.

As an intern, the staff took my story pitches seriously, and on some occasions, used them in the show.

Once each of the day’s stories was assigned to a segment in the rundown, the producers, host of the show and researcher would go into a conference call with the four panelists chosen for the show.

Meanwhile, my job was to search for video footage of the games, press conferences or highlights that would going to be discussed in the show and search for them in a database compiled by the video team in Bristol containing a heap of logged videos.

It was exciting — and a bit nerve wracking — to think that I was responsible in large part for the visuals that made it into the show. I was expected to exercise news judgment when deciding which clips would best accompany the host’s script.

Once I found the video content I wanted, I would work closely with the video editor, Jeff Weiner, and piece together the clips using Final Cut Pro to make them broadcast ready. I had used Final Cut Express during my Introduction to Multimedia Skills class over the summer, which proved to be beneficial. I can honestly say though that I learned a ton about Final Cut from this internship, since I used it regularly and was given the freedom to try the editing myself with guidance from the editor.

During the actual taping of the show, I was in one of two places. I was either down in the control room fact-checking with the producers and broadcast team, or upstairs in the editing room watching the feed of the show and listening closely for funny or interesting clips of the panelists talking, joking around — and sometimes singing — for a possible clip to post on Around the Horn’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

I would record the times of what I thought were the best exchanges between Bill Plaschke and Woody Page, or the best stories told by Jackie MacMullan and help the video editors, either Jeff or Chris Gavin, make the brief clips using Final Cut Pro. What I enjoyed about the clips was that they were always entertaining, and ended my day at the office on a high note.

My days at Around the Horn involved a lot of different aspects of the show — research, idea development, video editing, and social media content — and gave me an experience unlike anything I had done before in the media field.

Beyond the work I did, I can take away something else from this internship – the enjoyment of my experience working at an internship where there was never a dull moment.

 

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