A Day in the Life of an FT Weekend Magazine Intern by Harriet Hernando

Friday 2 July 2010

Like a sodden, wrung-out flannel, I am slightly limp from pitching ideas all day, but finally, one has captured the interest of the magazine associate editor, so I straighten up and set to work writing the article that will be printed in the next edition. Trying to quell my excitement, I’m on the phone immediately, verifying the facts from UN scientists for the data about the economic value of coral reefs that will appear in ‘The Information’ section.

After I can confirm that the facts in the article are as watertight as a seal in a PVC anorak, I send it to the editor who gives me valuable, detailed feedback. Editing a long sentence here, an adjective too many there, and my copy is transformed into a succinct piece of journalism fit for the FT Magazine. Later, I am taken to see the graphics team who show me how my article will appear, and they brainstorm an assortment of clown fish and sea anemones to accompany the data.

Besides pitching ideas, fact checking is an important part of an intern’s role. As the BP story broke, the grandees of the newspaper decided how best to cover the disaster. The result was a thorough 6,000 word article detailing BP’s attempts to ‘plug the damn hole’. My job was to find out what Barack Obama, the US President, had been doing in the aftermath of the oil spill, and to check the information in the copy, from the spelling of names to the valuation of a company: accuracy was paramount.

My internship coincided with the introduction of a new editor to the magazine, so whilst the atmosphere at times was slightly chaotic, it was great to be involved in a buzz of creativity as new ideas were pooled and old, tired ideas scrapped. I was able to contribute in editorial meetings where I felt that my opinion was valued. But it wasn’t all glamorous. At one point I was sent off on a hunt for a bin, and I ended up accidentally ordering a wheelie bin which a bewildered man somehow managed to squeeze into the office, only to be told that the green garden waste monstrosity was not suitable. Despite the blunder, no one in the office seemed to mind, and this was typically characteristic of the friendliness of the journalists there who made me feel welcome.

Interning on the Weekend Magazine is a great opportunity to experience what life as a hack is really like. While you may not be chain smoking roll-ups all day, or slugging back Scotch as you file your story in a hot, frenetic, sweaty rush up to the deadline, you will be under pressure to come up with your own pitches; don’t expect to be spoon-fed by the other journos. But fear not, for wracking your brain for ideas all week will no doubt lead to the holy grail of all internships, the sacred byline. As I depart, clutching my golden goblet, I am sad to leave the team on the magazine with whom I spent an enlightening and enjoyable three weeks.


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