My stint as a reporter for the UVI Voice was not quite what I expected it to be. After completing a summer internship at the national broadcast company in my country I really thought I had the upper hand in the class. Little did I know, that was not the case. I struggled with my writing style and had a hard time adapting to the AP style. Deciding to become a reporter for the UVI Voice forced me to register for news writing in the fall, I realized I could not graduate from UVI without the class. I am committed to improving my writing skills and myself as a communications practitioner.
Naturally, I am an inquisitive person and usually inquire about issues at UVI. I literally saw stories breaking in front of my eyes. It was my role to cover stories and rewrite press releases and briefs as a reporter for the UVI Voice. I wrote two stories and rewrote press releases. I interviewed over ten persons for my stories including UVI faculty, staff and students. Before submitting my articles, I sent them to my former boss and other journalists for editing. I usually spoke with my boss, Dr. Randall about ideas I had brewing and he provided advice when needed. Dr. Randall lent me one of the department’s voice recorders. I took this recorder with me every day to school, just in case a story broke.
I became excited about my role in the UVI Voice because for the first time I was going to be published under my own name and not an alias, or to be referred to as ‘the newsroom’. I posted my first article on my Facebook page and encouraged my friends to visit the website.
My first story was about the new vendors for the school’s cafeteria on St Thomas. Writing my first story was easy, I wrote it way in advance and conducted my interviews just before the assignment was due. I became frustrated at first when I was not able to schedule an interview with the manager for the school’s cafeteria Jahmal Dyer, nor the housing supervisor Sean Georges. I built up my confidence and decided to call Mr. Dyer at home one Sunday afternoon. At first, I thought he would chastise me for my lack of professionalism but to my surprise, he was very helpful and consented to an interview with me over the phone. This was great. I submitted my article with two sources just before the deadline. I was so disappointed when I saw the grade for my article. Just as I had suspected I needed the quote from Mr. Georges in order for my article to be complete. That same day I heard that Mr. Georges had a meeting in Student Activities. I patiently waited while the students played pool until his meeting was finished. I pulled out my recorder and interviewed him as soon as he stepped out of the door. Mr Georges commended me for my professionalism and gave me a direct line just incase I needed to follow up on the story. This for me was my greatest accomplishment, I felt like a real news reporter with a great soundbite to present to my editor. That experience taught me never to leave my room without my recorder.
Rewriting press releases and conducting research before writing my articles usually took up most of my time. For the press releases I had to determine what could be left out, what was wordy and what could be summarized. Sometimes I took over an hour just to get one done. My research would stem over a couple of days. When I wrote the article about student entrepreneurs at UVI I conducted research about entrepreneurship in the Virgin islands and the 13-D competition.
The UVI Voice is a very informative website for students with easy to read fun filled articles. The main problem is that many students do not know about the website and at times there is a lapse where nothing new is being posted. I think that the authors themselves should promote the website even more. The editors should also ensure that fresh content is being posted regularly. We could launch a selfie competition, essay, or short story competition. As long as students know that they can find their work on the website they will definitely visit it more often and tell their friends about it.