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Intern Insider: Washington Post Intern Embraces Multimedia from a ... Cave?

Ashley Barnas works in a cave. Well, not a literal cave, with the high, damp walls, the darkness, the things that go bump in the night. But a figurative one that's probably better defined as a little room in the middle of a larger newsroom. It's affectionately referred to as a cave, and the employees who work inside it have hung bats from the ceiling and drawn pictures of sunshine on the windowless walls.

It’s certainly an intimate environment, which is why Barnas has quickly been adopted into the cave dwellers’ family at The Washington Post Digital in Arlington, Va. The news video intern says she’s treated like a regular employee, often because she’s asked to work alone late into the evening, editing reporters’ video.

“I think the first day I was there, I knew I was going to fit in,” Barnas says. “They said they wished they could hire me.”

Barnas has worked the gamut of news media jobs both in internships and at Elon. She started as a broadcast journalist, reporting for Phoenix14News. She then moved to print journalism and became news editor of The Pendulum. Then she combined the two media and focused her sights on multimedia journalism, and she was quickly named one of Elon University’s first recipients of the Scripps Howard Foundation Award.

The award, she says, forced her to beef up her online portfolio to make it both professionally and aesthetically pleasing. It also led her to her internship with the Post.

“After getting the Scripps Howard award, I knew I wanted a multimedia internship,” says Barnas, now the online editor of the Pendulum. “I knew instantly (the Post) is where I wanted to be because it’s the paper I grew up with and because of the whole Woodward and Bernstein dream.”

Since beginning her internship, Barnas has edited several videos and shot a couple of her own, including the 4th of July celebration in Washington, D.C. She also monitors video on the AP wire and pulls content from it that would work well with stories on the Post’s home page.

Barnas is a news video intern with the Post.

She’s become so trusted so fast that full-time employees of the Washington Post often seek her advice and give her important work to complete. She’s also been a regular attendant at the 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. meetings with the news desk.

“I think it’s cool they’re trusting me enough to do those kinds of things,” Barnas says. “They have been giving me a lot of experiences I had hoped for but never believed I was going to get.”

Barnas has made her mark early and often because of the training she’s received in the School of Communications, she says. When she arrived at the Post for her first week of work, she already knew how to shoot video and use Final Cut Pro to edit it. So she was essentially ready to work from the start.

“When I went in, I wasn’t overly confident,” she says, “but I knew what to expect out of an internship and I also know what to expect out of a workload. They didn’t have to teach me as much because I already knew the software they used.”

Barnas says ultimately she wants to leave the internship with a diverse and expansive portfolio that showcases what she learned during her summer. She also hopes to maintain good relationships with her coworkers at the Post.

She’s most excited, though, to take the skills she’s gaining now and to apply them to her coursework and her work with the Pendulum.

“I’ve really learned the fast paced intensity of the newsroom,” Barnas says. “The things I’m learning here I’ll definitely take back to the Pendulum for sure because now I know how newspapers work with their online components.”

And she’s also learned what she does and doesn’t want to do as a professional.

“I definitely need to be out in the field,” Barnas says. “I have to be out there meeting people and shooting stories. This has taught me that I’m not a person who’s meant to be in the office. I need to be out there shooting my own video, editing it later and writing my own story.

“It’s also taught me that Elon really is preparing students to compete against (other reporters) because you learn increasingly that these old reporters, they’re having to learn video because otherwise their jobs are in danger. (Elon students) know it all, and we’re excited to take on these different roles.”

Intern Insider will run one to two times a week during the summer and will feature brief stories about some of the interns from the School of Communications or in School of Communications programs.

Ashley Barnas is interning with Washington Post Digital.
Colin Donohue,
Staff
7/22/2009 11:35 AM