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Intern Insider: Student Earns Master's in Broadcasting During His '60 Minutes' of Summer

Networking. It's a buzz word that certainly caroms through the halls of Elon's School of Communications. Students are taught to make connections and establish relationships with human resources personnel, internship directors and professionals in the media field. They do it because one day, even the most chance encounter could lead to an internship or a job.

Tim Barber

Senior broadcast journalism major Tim Barber made his mark at CBS last year with an internship at “The Early Show,” but his dream was to work for the CBS news institution “60 Minutes.” His connections at “The Early Show” with producers, talent and internship coordinators helped, but they didn’t necessarily land him the “60 Minutes” gig.

Instead, the ball began rolling when Barber learned that one of the show’s senior producers, Michael Radutzky, had a daughter at Elon. So he began to ask around and found out that Radutzky had already made contact with Communications Director of Internships Nagatha Tonkins. Barber placed a call to Radutzky and within four days, he had landed the internship with “60 Minutes.”

“(Raduztky) said, ‘What do you want to do?’” Barber says. “I said, ‘All I really want to do is work at ‘60 Minutes.’ That’s my dream.’ He said, ‘All right, you got it.’

“I was pretty lucky this time around, being in the right spot at the right time.”

Barber wrapped up his internship a week ago, but during the summer, he worked closely with Radutzky, who was the late Ed Bradley’s producer. Barber completed research for stories, sat in on meetings and connected with other producers, editors and correspondents.

“Learning broadcasting from (Radutzky) is like learning golf from Tiger Woods and playing with him every day,” Barber says. “He gave me responsibility he would give anyone in his unit. He let me do as much as I wanted to do, but he told me when I started that I would not be doing the same things that most interns do at most networks or local stations.”

The big story Barber worked on was the show’s exclusive interview with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who spent time in jail because of his role in a dog fighting ring. Barber researched Vick’s career, his involvement in dog fighting, his trial, former NFL coach Tony Dungy (who served as Vick’s mentor when he was released from jail) and the president of the humane society.

Barber also went on the shoot, helped log tape and submitted a list of 60 questions to be used in the Vick interview, which Radutzky took under advisement.

“We were there throughout the whole process with the producers,” Barber says. “We were up until 2 a.m., working on no sleep. It’s kind of hard for me to process it now a week later. I was involved in every step of the process along the way: observing, working. It was a blast.”

Barber says the most informative step in the entire development of the Vick story was sitting in on the initial screening of the story. Barber says the rough cut of the interview was sound and solid, but the executive producers suggested some changes that took the story from strong to stellar.

“To me, that was one of the most amazing parts of the internship,” Barber says. “I could see this amazing piece, but see (the producers) make a few tweaks and changes. The second time we screened it, it flowed better, it made more sense than the first time. You go through this huge process, and that’s what makes ‘60 Minutes’ so much better, in my mind, than any other news program out there.”

During the internship, Barber wanted to “get inside the system” and see how the show operates, and make good contacts and receive great advice from seasoned veterans. Barber says “60 Minutes” journalist Scott Pelley, Barber’s personal hero, actually sat down and watched the 30-minute story Barber produced about President Leo Lambert.

“He watched the whole thing, and he gave me some good hints,” he says.

Barber says he felt prepared for the internship because of his experience as a correspondent for Phoenix14News, Elon’s weekly news show.

“Every class I took prepared me in some fashion or another,” Barber says. “But really Phoenix14 is where I learned everything. You can be taught everything in the classroom, but unless you know how to do it, you can’t apply it. Phoenix14 was really the backbone of my education.”

And while his in-class work and his job at Phoenix14News has helped him land impressive internships and produce a quality reel of work, it’s his experience at “60 Minutes” this summer, he says, that’s really catapulted him.

“I got a master’s degree in broadcasting at ‘60 Minutes,’” Barber says. “As far as an education, being at ‘60 Minutes’ blew everything else out of the water because you’re learning from people who’ve done it for years. It’s the gold standard of journalism.”

This is the last Intern Insider of the summer.

Colin Donohue,
8/22/2009 12:24 PM