An MJ’s CNNGo Internship: Part Fun, Part Bootcamp

Lareina Choong, a Master of Journalism student from Singapore, spent 10 weeks interning at CNNGo in Hong Kong this winter, working on its  travel and lifestyle news web site.

Lareina Choong (MJ 2012) at CNNGo

Here is her account of her experience:

“When one thinks of CNNGo, it’s synonymous with the word ‘fun’ in bright bold colours.

“While that’s largely true, what really pulls everything together is a mixed bag of hours of hard work, dedication and humour. My 10-week internship can be summed up in this equation: one quarter fun, three quarters boot camp.

“My role consisted of writing features and assisting staff with web content management system, which required the knowledge and technical know-how taught in Diane Stormont’s online journalism and Kevin Drew’s reporting and writing classes.

“When I say ‘boot camp’, I mean I had to work really hard to meet deadlines, interview people and research stories. It wasn’t about sitting at the desk for eight hours making the occasional coffee and photocopying documents.”

“A typical day lasts from 9.30 pm to 6.30 pm, sometimes even longer than that if you have to make international calls to the US or UK, which is what I did for a couple of stories.

“The editors at CNNGo regularly gave my colleague (Chan) Hoishan – a fellow MJ – and me opportunities to pitch as many feature stories as possible, on top of other smaller editorial tasks. Hence, a good part of the mornings were allocated to news reading and trawling for the latest travel-related stories.

“My articles required constant communication with industry professionals from the Lonely Planet, Quintessentially, Crashpadder, Roomorama, Cathay Pacific, The Royal Collection, Calgary Stampede and more. I had to conduct interviews or request product information and permission to reproduce copyright images.

“One of the fun things I did was taking photographs for the articles How to enjoy Christmas in Hong Kong and Souvenirs we can’t wait to buy in 2012. These were fun pieces to write about but involved a good deal of research and making contact with companies.

“I feel CNNGo’s a great place to get as many bylines as possible — you’re truly expected to produce written material! The best part is that the editors give valuable feedback on your work: they’ll tell you where you went wrong; how you can improve, and give tips on what sort of interview questions to ask and how to ‘chase’ press officers or companies for information.

“CNNGo doesn’t subscribe to writing PR fluff, but putting its own spin on the topic, so it was an extremely satisfying feeling when my interview subjects read the published articles and were happy with the write-up.

“JMSC students who want to intern at CNNGo must be prepared to write as much as possible. Be ready with ideas to present to the editors and always be ready to jump onto any assignment the editor dishes out.”