Summer Internship Series: “Let her in, she’s a member of the press!”

Fitale Wari ’18

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

My name is Fitale Wari. I’m a senior Communication and English Literature double major with a concentration in Narrative Nonfiction Writing. I interned at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this past summer, and although I was technically an intern in the features department, I was addressed as a reporter in the newsroom.

I didn’t have many expectations prior to entering my internship; however, I did expect to have a desk job starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. From training to specific assignments, I expected structure. This was not the case.

I found myself working inconsistent hours depending on what I was covering. I’d come to work later in the afternoon if I was working on a story late the night before. Or, if I was reporting on-site, I’d find myself sending emails to the newsroom so another reporter could piece together my vignettes to create an informative and in depth story. I enjoyed the flexibility and I enjoyed being tasked with different assignments. Amongst everything I experienced, I most enjoyed stories I pitched; they ranged from profiles, weekend events, history and preservation within the city, architecture and art, and concerts.

Disregarding the different stories, assigned to and pitched by myself, my favorite part about reporting for the Post-Gazette was meeting the diverse individuals I interviewed. Had I not reported for the paper, I wouldn’t’ve met all the artists, local Pittsburghers, and active community members. In fact, they each taught me different lessons.

It was interesting to be in the newsroom during our time – during the heat of political, economic, and social differences. It was also interesting to witness a shift in print journalism to a “digital now” approach, which is what it was called in the newsroom. Since the paper is under a huge transition, many of the seminars I sat-in on with seasoned reporters seemed standard for someone who was raised with technology surrounding them.

Although I enjoyed this summer, and I learned a lot from my internship – from appropriate professional behaviors to independent living and production of work – I’m unsure whether I want to pursue a career in journalism. I know post-undergrad I would love to continue my studies, but I’ve been more interested in the ways in which humans communicate. I’d rather study how relationships are formed based on the rhetoric humans use. So, in a way, working in the newsroom allowed me the opportunity to see the power in the spread of information, use of language, and manipulation by the media.

I wouldn’t’ve discovered this internship opportunity had it not been for Professor Jack Shuler from the English department. Nor would I have effectively represented myself through my resume and cover letter had it not been for the coaching of Michele Doran from the Knowlton Center.

My work is still featured on the Post-Gazette website, and if you search my name, you’ll see my clips. I appreciate the one-on-one guidance from various editors: Kevin Kirkland, L.A. Johnson, Scott Mervis, and Virginia Linn. One special thanks to my mentor, Arthi Subramaniam, who was patient, flexible, and extremely supportive.