Intern learns news business at Atlanta's 11Alive
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
Copeland Tucker of Newnan spent his summer on TV.
As an intern with 11Alive News in Atlanta, the University of Georgia senior had a chance to learn the broadcast news business inside and out, a valuable experience for a would-be journalist.
Tucker said he’s always been a fan of 11Alive News, so he asked a professor who is a former producer there to write a letter of recommendation that helped him earn the internship.
Once established as an intern, Tucker said he discovered the struggle to maintain professionalism was the toughest part, especially when he went out to do on-location reporting with the news staff.
A particularly hard-learned lesson involved a story about a teenage girl who, on a late-night McDonald’s run, was killed by a drunk driver. The reporter interviewed a woman who had come to place a teddy bear and flowers on the girl’s makeshift memorial.
“She started crying on camera,” he said. “When the interview was over, I gave her a hug and said, ‘I am so sorry.’ The reporter was very nice about it, but he reminded me that as journalists, we really have to stay objective.”
Tucker said he was embarrassed but thankful.
“It was a really hard lesson for me to learn,” he said. “But you have to be out there every day, covering really awful things sometimes, and it’s important to remember to stay professional even if it goes against our instincts as people.”
The eight-week internship ended with TSPLOST vote tabulation, a task particularly interesting to Tucker because of his previous summer’s political science internship in Congressman David Scott’s office.
“I’m having a really hard time deciding whether I want a career in (political science) or broadcast,” said Tucker, who also is considering graduate school. “During that internship, I got to meet with constituents. When people would come into his office with problems or needing help, I got to do some hands-on stuff and I really enjoyed feeling like I was making a difference.”
Tucker said his 11Alive internship quickly destroyed any illusions about the glamor of the news business.
“There is no way I could have been taught what it’s truly like,” There are so many aspects to the broadcast industry, but the person I learned the most from was the person at the assignment desk. They’re not famous – people don’t even know their names because they just sit there and take calls, but they really are the heartbeat of the news. You can’t learn that unless you have experienced it firsthand.”