This semester I have been working at the largest CBS News station outside of New York called the London Bureau. It covers all of Europe, the Middle East, and even Antarctica! I have been here for about 4 weeks, and I learn something new every day. Today is a slow Monday as no news stories are coming out of the Bureau. That happens sometimes where NY CBS doesn’t need any coverage from our office. I am typing this at my desk during my break, but I thought I could go through what my week is like! Every day is different at the Bureau because the news is unpredictable, to say the least.
So every day, I try to wake up around 6:30 am to leave the house (PEH) at 7:30 am. However, I am still a teenager, so that rarely happens. Most of the time I get out of bed by 7:15 am and get going by 7:45 am. I then head down to the bus station, where I check my Citymapper app to find out what the fastest route would be. I usually take the Overground, but it is notorious for being unreliable. So, I make sure to check before a commit on a route. This morning I took the bus to Kentish Town West Station, and then took the overground to Gunnersbury. Sometimes the tube is easiest, too. I always get off at Gunnersbury and walk a few minutes to the business park. If you can imagine a college campus of business people, that is Chiswick Park. It has many buildings and dining areas and just has a very professional feel with the look of an American college campus. I head on into my building and scan in. When I get to the studio/office, I sit down at my desk in the NEWSDESK area. I login to my computer and start being an adult. I check Slack first, which is an office communication app thing. I read what stories CBS is covering, if anyone needs me to do something, what correspondents are in today, etc. It is often a lot to read especially on a Monday, as I have to catch up on Thursday-Friday. Now, as I said, my workload and schedule are unpredictable, and the work does not carry into the next day. I could get in the door and my boss could say ‘’Head downstairs, they need you at Buckingham Palace’’. If this happens, my entire day is different, and I’ll get into that a little bit later.
If not, I will move on from Slack and go over to ENPS, the wire service. I always have to keep this service up to check if any breaking news wires come in. It is one of my jobs to forward interesting breaking news to the Newsdesk staff. ENPS is also the platform for checking the daily rundowns. The New York Morning News (CBS This Morning) goes off at 12 pm our time (7 am theirs) every day. It is hosted by Gayle King. If any world news is being reported on, it will come from our desk to CTM. I’ll check the rundown to see if any stories are coming out of the Bureau. Sometimes the correspondents are in London (usually I go with them) or somewhere else in the world. Although, occasionally, the correspondent will report at the News Desk feet away from my desk. It is so exciting because I get to see the different styles of broadcasters!
I love getting coffee from the kitchen, as well. My latte art skills are still in development, however. As an intern, I often get people coffee or tea, but I don’t mind! British people love constant hot drinks…
Sometimes I have to wait for my tasks. During this waiting time, I continue to read wires and watch the broadcast. Today, at about 10 am, I was given my first assignment. Boris Johnson was going to speak at a Brexit Conference, and I had to log his speech. Surprisingly, I really enjoy these transcriptions. I did a few so far, like Putin press conferences, and the Auschwitz Memorial Service. It’s pretty exciting, and I get to be the first one to hear pretty important things. Then the correspondents and producers will read my summary or log, and use the info for their story. I also get small jobs throughout the day. Like today, I was sorting the passports of the crew and journalists, researching military bases, and checking up on the other news outlets headlines. Today was a pretty simple day of clerical work, but I was able to watch the staff set up for a big evening news live about the London terrorist attacker. It is very interesting to see how a story becomes shared worldwide.
Other days, I never get to sit down. Last week, I was sent right to Buckingham Palace every day. When I am there, I run to Pret to get coffees, yes, but I also have some important jobs. I help the cameraman set up the lighting, camera, or whatever he needs. I also help the makeup person set up their station. While the correspondent is sitting in the van finishing up their script or getting ready for the camera, I am the stand-in for test shots. This means I stand in front of the camera and let the producer and cameraman change the lighting and alter the shot to be perfect. Sometimes, depending on timing and the trust the team has in me, I get to check in with New York. This means I put in the little ear piece and listen to two voices. One of the voices is the live broadcast (what you would see on TV), and another is a producer/tech member in NY. They ask me questions like who is the correspondent, can you hear Gayle, and can I count to 10 (to check the mic). I find this chat with New York so fun, yet so scary. But if there is enough time before the live and my check-in, I am more relieved. During the broadcast, I am usually on lighting. This means I will stand slightly outside of the shot and hold a sun blocker or reflector. I have to stand perfectly still or the shield will hit the correspondent on the head (boink!). If I am not on lighting, I am usually herding foot traffic. At Buckingham Palace, there are many tourists who want to run into the camera! It is often my job to ask them to wait until the shoot is over or direct them in another direction. Once, when I was holding the sun blocker, there was no one to stop tourists from running into the shot. The correspondent had to stop answering Anne Marie Greene’s questions about Meghan Markle to let a random woman through! It was definitely a learning experience. Sometimes after that, the correspondent will then go on a location interview. I love these because the people being interviewed are usually super cool. Once, I went on locale for a CBS interview with Prince Harry’s friend. The correspondent asked the friend how Prince Harry’s leave affects his charities. Another time, I got to go to the Daily Mail headquarters to hear about Prince Andrew. (Lots of Royal News).
Wednesdays are one of my favorite days because that’s when I am on London Calling. London Calling is a segment for CBSN about London News for the US audience. The host is Simon Bates, who is a quite famous British TV and radio presenter. He once told me that if I don’t see a certain theatre performance, he would fire me (which I’m not sure he can do). Anyway, the shoot usually starts at about 10 and is in a different location every week. Sometimes it's at the Bureau, and other times I get to see really awesome places in London. A few weeks ago, I joined the crew in a London courtroom for a story on impeachment’s origin in the UK. I got to manage the teleprompter. The task is actually quite hard, as it takes rhythm and the ability to match the reporter's speech. During filming, one of the cameras ran out of battery, so I was sent to a media shop in Camden Town to retrieve a new one. It was quite an adventure. Then after the shoot, I always get to sit in on the editing of the piece. The producer always brings me chocolate to eat during this, so I have a blast. I get to put in my opinion sometimes about the editing and help find stock footage if needed. Wednesday’s are a great day because I get to see the broadcast sequence from start to finish.
This is just a little insight into being a news intern in London. As I am only 19 years old, I am so blessed to be experiencing this so early on in my career. I am even considering applying for a summer internship with CBS News in Manhattan!
I have friends who are also enjoying their amazing internships. One of my friends gets to sort clothes worn by famous influencers, while other eats lunch a table away from Theresa May. I really recommend the internship abroad programs Arcadia offers. Not only do you get hands-on job experience, but you get to explore a new city at the same time.
One of the sets at the business park
Chiswick Business Park
A lunch pod
Monitors at work
My desk. One screen is for the broadcast, the other is my computer
At buckingham palace
Doing test shots