Student Recounts Summer Internship at IHT

What’s it like to intern with a major international news organisation?

Zakiyyah Wahab

Zakiyyah Wahab, a Bachelor of Journalism student at the JMSC, is finding out.  She’s spending her summer interning at the Hong Kong bureau of the International Herald Tribune.

The IHT is the international edition of the New York Times, and is headquartered in Paris.  Wahab, who is Canadian,  has recently completed the second year of her BJ studies.  Here’s her account of life in the big leagues of journalism:

“The International Herald Tribune in Hong Kong is more of an editors’ office, which means not a lot of reporting is done. I mainly work for the Opinion section, and help out with fact-checking articles for their Latitude blog.”

“The lecturers at the JMSC always stress the need for journalists to know what’s going on in the world around them, and to make sure their reports are as accurate as is humanly possible.”

Wahab has learned that the lecturers’ advice is as valid in the real world as it is in the classroom:

“The information I have to check varies greatly, so the first two weeks were definitely mentally challenging. On one day, I might be fact-checking an article about the floods in Russia, as well as religious texting in Pakistan – you really have to be sure you have a pretty good grasp of the situations in order to confirm the facts mentioned in the opinion pieces.

“Although I’m more than half-way into my internship already, this fact-checking business still never fails to surprise me with the amount and vastness of information I have to know. One of the more memorable moments was going through the history of naming what is presently known as Myanmar – I spent quite a bit of time making sure the names during different times were correct (and more importantly, being confident enough to tell the editor I was positive about the names).

“Mornings at the IHT are always more on the quiet side, because there are only a few editors working then. The Paris office does not open until around noon or 1pm Hong Kong time and this is when most of the IHT staff (in Hong Kong) come in to work. It definitely took a while for me to get used to coming into a quiet office in the morning, but I’m glad I get to work in such an international workplace.

“Besides fact-checking, I have also contributed to some reporting as well as doing some job-shadowing. Both these things have made me understand more how a newsroom functions as well as making me see how a piece of local news can be reported from a global perspective.”