‘Surreal’ – APTN internship leads young journalist to Standing Rock

 

As part of JHR’s Indigenous Reporters Program, the organization partners with newsrooms across Canada to provide emerging Indigenous reporters the opportunity to cut their teeth in the newsroom through a three-month paid internship. Brittany interned at Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) in Winnipeg in late 2016.

 

Teepees at Dusk in Standing Rock
Teepees at dusk in Standing Rock, where hundreds of people camped for months in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The nation is opposed to the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline on their traditional territory. Photo Credit: Brittany Hobson

By Brittany Hobson

I went into the APTN internship fresh out of college. I had very little experience in the television world. My other experiences were in print and web. In school we had a year’s training in producing news for tv. My instructors were great and taught us a lot but when I came to APTN I felt like I was learning everything all over again.

I came into the newsroom in September. Everyone made it clear the internship was mine to tailor. I got to choose where I wanted to spend my time. I let them know I was open to any department and wanted to do it all. I started working on the weekly live program InFocus. I assisted with research for their weekly topics, wrote small paks for the host to voice, searched for relevant clips and stories, chased people for interviews, and monitored the phones during the live show. Working on this show really showed me what went into putting a show together and the ins and outs of live television.

Brittany Hobson had the opportunity to report at Standing Rock in North Dakota during her three-month internship with APTN. Photo submitted by: Brittany Hobson

About a month into my internship I started doing my own stories for the national news program. At the beginning it was the producers sending me story ideas and I would follow up on them. Two months into my internship I started pitching my own stories. While I was doing this I split my time working with InFocus. I still enjoyed working with the team on putting together the show each week and wanted to continue learning and working with them.

Then, in my last month of my internship I was given the opportunity to do something I never thought I would get three months into my career. My news director approached me and asked if I wanted to go down to North Dakota to cover Standing Rock. APTN had reporters down there since August. They had been covering it extensively. Many times throughout my internship people in the office joked that I should go down there. Never did I think they would send an intern down there. I should say I wasn’t alone. I was sent with another reporter in the Winnipeg office and a cameraman from the Whitehorse bureau. I was there to assist and possibly do some of my own reporting. So, in early December we all departed for a week on the road.

Being there was a very surreal experience. I had been watching all of APTN’s coverage of it and speaking with other reporters who covered it but it doesn’t prepare you for the actual thing. The camp was huge at that time. Bigger than I ever imagined and so organized. We arrived right before all the veterans came in support. We were also there when the Army Corps of Engineers announced the easement. It was a very hectic week. Whenever people ask me about it it’s hard to put into words what I experienced and what the water protectors were experiencing. I remember telling my family the day I found out I was going and some expressed concern over my safety. This was certainly a concern for me but all I was thinking about what getting to experience this historic moment in US history and only being three months into my career.

Helicopter over Camp at Standing Rock
A helicopter over a camp at Standing Rock. Photo Credit: Brittany Hobson

 

When I got back I had one week left in my internship. At this point my boss asked if I wanted to extend my contract by two more months. I couldn’t turn this opportunity down. When I came back in the New Year I was exclusively a reporter and spent all my time chasing stories for the news program. That is where I am at now.

Working in this often fast-paced environment has been an adjustment. I had to learn all the ins and outs of the television world. Often times it was me just trying to figure things out by myself. The staff at APTN has been more than helpful but sometimes it’s all about trial and error. Working here has given me a new confidence boost. I came into the internship a timid person but willing and ready to work hard. The more I’ve faced new opportunities the more I have gained confidence in my abilities and my work.

I have less than one month left in my contract. There is a reporter position open in the Winnipeg office. My next step is to apply for it.

APTN and JHR have given me opportunities I only dreamed of. I still have a lot to learn and can’t wait to take that on.

 

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