Monthly Archives: June 2019

Mapping, Scripting, and Networking, Oh My!

So much has happened this week!

I have been dividing my time between three different tasks each day. I start every morning reviewing articles that were published the previous day to verify the accuracy of the tags that were applied. This is helping train the computer algorithm to pull the correct tag based on the content of a story. I read about seventeen of these articles each day.

I have then been spending a majority of my days either researching or practicing coding in Python. Specifically, I’ve been looking at documentation on web scraping. How to do it, what results it can give, and more than anything, how it can make life easier in certain research scenarios. So far, I have learned a lot. I have managed to scrape information off web pages I downloaded. The next step will entail figuring out how to scrape from a live website. Looks like I have a ton more reading ahead of me.

When I need breaks from coding or reading, I am still mapping the Google categories to our existing taxonomy term list. It has been a bit of a challenge making sure that I am getting every layer of the hierarchy mapping to the correct path. But once we have it all done, we can ensure that all the tags are pointing to the right content.

We also had an intern session dedicated to professionalism. We went over the usual basics, resume and cover letter building, interview etiquette, networking, and how to make your way through the media industry. I will admit that I felt like I did not learn much. This is due in part to a few things. First, as a graduate student, all of the resume and cover letter stuff is very remedial for me. I have attended classes with career services both in my graduate and undergraduate programs. Some of my actual academic classes also had sessions related to professional development. Overall, I heard the same things that I have heard for the last few years. Also, so much of the presentation was, again, how to make it in the entertainment industry. The work I do, it is not specific to the entertainment industry. The other interns are incredibly cutthroat, particularly when it comes to air time and getting stories written. I think it may be best for me to just keep my head down and do the work I know how to do and enjoy where I am doing it.

With it being already a quarter of the way through the program, I still enjoy going to work every day. Looking forward to seeing how the rest of the summer progresses!

So What Do You Want to Do?

This last week marked my first official week of work at CNN. I ended up working on several different projects.

I began the week developing new terms for a developing story line: the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. I went through any and all stories already written about the World Cup and did a deep dive into any resources I could find for information specific to this year’s World Cup. That means no team names, no players, none of that. It did mean, however, stadium names, the mascot, and any variation of the term “2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France.” It took a little while to get the hang of it, but building taxonomies is starting to make more logical sense.

My next actual taxonomy task is mapping our current taxonomy to a list we obtained from Google. This is nice, repetitive work. In doing so, I am getting a better understanding of the way terms are linked together and why certain phrases mean different things. For example, what “fired by” means versus “gets weight from.”

What has been a really eye-opening experience for me is the priority CNN and the library have placed on my personal interests. My bosses asked me the other day, “So. What is it that you want to get out of this internship? What can we do to help you get there?” Some internships I have had in the past are very company oriented, meaning they hired me on to help them complete a specific task. This has been a refreshing change of pace. I have the freedom to pursue ideas and activities that are important to me and what I am interested in doing. That said, I told them my interests lie in learning various digital methods. Whether that means experimenting with different software, in-depth learning Python, any new method that I have not been exposed to yet, I at least want to get some practice with it. I am so grateful that this job lets me do that.

In addition to my tasks in the library, all the interns have been put into groups to work together on a group project. At the end of the summer, we will present our pitches to various company executives with the possibility that we will present to Jeff Zucker, the company’s current CEO. Now, I will not tell you what our idea is. But we gave preliminary pitches to our HR recruiter. We got some great feedback, suggestions on who to reach out to, things to consider as we move forward in the pitch process. I am hopeful that our team will work well in getting our pitch off the ground in the best possible presentation we can muster.

Here’s to week 2 at CNN!

Welcome to CNN Center.

Moving to Atlanta has certainly been a whirlwind. From learning to navigate public transportation, to getting settled into my condo, to making the first grocery trip, it’s been one heck of a week.

I felt very prepared going in for my first day at CNN. The HR department was wonderful in sending us any information we needed for the summer. What we needed for our I-9 paperwork, where to go, how to get badges, and the schedule for the entire day. We even had a GroupMe with all of the Turner Broadcasting interns so we could interact with our coworkers before we even met each other. So, when I got on the MARTA for my fifteen minute commute to CNN Center, I felt very excited to begin my internship.

I joined a line with several other interns to get our temporary badges before we got our permanent ones. We began the day by taking a CNN Intern photo outside with the CNN letters:

We then received a tour of the CNN facility. We went up the giant escalator which ends inside a model of the globe (fun fact: the escalator, which is actually the longest free-standing escalator in the world, is built directly into the structure of the building. It is impossible to remove the elevator without the building crumbling to the ground). We walked past the Atlanta television studios, as well as looked down onto the newsroom floor. Somehow, we also ended up at the cafeteria, which was a bit of a tease, since we weren’t getting lunch for another three hours.

After the tour, we gathered in a conference room for a day of presentations about what to expect from this internship experience. We all went around and introduced ourselves. This was the first time I really noticed who I would be working with. There were meteorologists, journalists, editors, photographers, and on-air personalities all around me. They were also primarily undergraduates, or graduates as of three weeks prior.

We also had the opportunity to meet senior executives at CNN. They informed us of the values CNN maintains, how the company works, and the expectations of us not as interns, but as CNN employees. We have jobs to do. While we have room for mistakes, we have responsibilities to get stories told and keep the facts straight. Granted, while they were referring primarily to writing stories and editing and all the aspects of media, I knew this also applied to me in generating the storyline tags that I would be applying to the content CNN produced.

More than anything, it is so interesting to see how the company reacts in real time. For example, when we had our meeting in the afternoon with senior executives, we had no idea about the President’s tweet earlier that morning calling for a boycott of CNN. They informed us of CNN’s stance on the matter and how we would all move forward. Not only in our responsibility as employees, but also as Americans. As a historian whose subject matter is centuries old, to be working in a real time environment with current events and topics is a real change of pace.

I’ll be perfectly honest: it’s a weird thing being a librarian at a media company. Most of the trainings, presentations, and questions that were asked were deeply rooted in journalism. I felt almost out of place at certain times. I will admit, I think it’s still very interesting to work for a giant corporation like this. Because, while the workshops and skills these workshops are teaching us are all focused on some element of journalism, I am getting exposure to things that I would not have otherwise. While this week has been mostly training (and getting to know my fellow interns), I’m so looking forward to hitting the ground running on Monday and really get into the nitty gritty of working with the CNN taxonomy.