Jester's first press conference. (long and depressing)

Now gather round children, it’s high times ye heard,
Bout an intern named Jester, on whom life took a turd,
His labors may shock you, they may even appal,
But know that I felt their effects worst of all.
So sit back and enjoy, you can laugh at my pain,
I just hope that it never ever happens again.

Okay, I’ll stop with the epic poetry now. I was never good at playing the lute anyway.

This summer, I am interning at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, a pretty big newspaper here in the 'Burgh. This makes me happy. It’s an academic program for which I don’t get payed, but that’s okay, cause I really just want the experience. No, really. I don’t need money. Really. <sigh>

Anyway, the program goes for 6 weeks, during which I get rotated around three of the departments at the paper. My first two weeks were spent in Editorial, which is admittedly in its own little world, seperate from the rest of the newsroom. Still, I enjoyed it, and even got a few editorials published. Which I didn’t get payed for. But that’s okay, really.

Today was my first day at a new post, so to speak. I’m now at Cityside, which covers all of the local news. In other words, I’m now at a part of the paper that does actual reporting. Huzzah.

Within 15 minutes of arriving at Cityside and meeting my advisor, I got my first assignment. It was to be the assignment from the 9th circle of Hell. And not the nice part, with the snack bar. I’m talking about the really sleazy part, where people who make Lifetime Original Movies go.

“Hey, do you have a driver’s liscence?” Asks my supervisor. “Yeah,” I reply, as is the fashion of the times. “Good,” he says. “Take this key, go take one of the staff cars, and cover this press conference at Mercy Hospital.” With that, he turns around, and continues work on his article, leaving me stuttering in front of him. My mind had many questions to ask at that moment, including “What’s the press conference about?” and “How the Hell do I cover a press conference?” However, they all tried to force their way out of my mouth at once, causing me to emit a high-pitched burst of air that sounded suspiciously like a squeak.

The editor looked up from his article and examined me for a minute. “Oh, this is your first time doing one of these, right?” Relieved that he was going to share a bit more wisdom with me, I nodded. “Okay,” he said. “Good luck. Remember to take a notebook. The press conference starts in 15 minutes.” He handed me the press release for the conference. Once again, he turned back to his article.

Not wanting to push my luck, I walked down to the lobby and out the door, clutching the release and the key to the staff car in one hand and my notebook in the other. As I got out into the street, though, I realized that I had no idea where the car was parked. All I knew from the tag on the keychain was that it was a silver Plymouth Breeze, liscence plate DRG-4010. Across the street, there was a parking garage. Okay, I thought. There’s nowhere else to park around here but in that garage. I’ll look there. Confidently, I went across the street and into the garage.

Looking around at the hundreds of cars in the garage, I realized that finding a silver Plymouth Breeze I had never seen before might be a bit harder than I’d anticipated. Still, I hurridly ran down each line of cars, looking for my vehicle.

There are a lot of silver Plymouth Breezes in downtown Pittsburgh. This is a fact that I learned over the course of the next 15 minutes, which were spent sprinting from row to row. However, I also learned that there are NOT a lot of silver Plymouth Breezes with DRG-4010 liscence plates. And there are NO silver Breezes with that liscence parked in the garage that I spent those 15 minutes running through.

Defeated, I ran out of the garage and back into the lobby, flustered and really pissed because the very first assignment I ever got was starting and I wasn’t at it. Flashing an apologetic look at the guard in the lobby, I politely asked where the staff cars were parked.

“Oh, you didn’t know?” she asked. “No,” I replied. “I’m new here.”
“Well, hon, that’s easy. All you have to do is go the lot behind the building. They’re all out there.”
“The lot behind the building?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she replied, then went back to watching whatever game show was playing on her little TV.

It was a somber walk to the lot behind the building, I can tell you that. Here I was, 10 minutes late for my first press conference ever, all because I had gone to the wrong fucking lot.

Now that I was in the lot I was supposed to be in, I found my car within a minute.

However, it was blocked in by another car that God had put there, just to spite me. Taking his time, the lot attendant moved it out of my way, and I almost crashed it in my hurry to back out and get moving.

Pulling up to the gate, I reached into the glove compartment for the lease card that I had been assured would be there. It wasn’t. A quick, frantic search through the rest of the car showed that there was, in fact, no lease card in the vehicle.

At this point, I yelled what may be the longest, loudest, most drawn out stream of expletives of my life.

After I had thus relieved myself, I turned back to the open window, looking for the attendant.

He had, of course, been standing right outside the open window the entire time. He now had a very worried, patronizing look on his face.

“I’ll…I’ll just let you out,” he sayed, trying to hold back a giggle.

Completely humiliated, I shot a quick apology at him, then sped off to Mercy Hospital. At this point, it was 10:20, and I had a good 10 minute drive ahead of me.

I got there, found a spot, and sprinted to the hospital. Zooming around the corriders, I made the distance from the entrance of the hospital to the boardroom in a time that would’ve made Michal Johnson jealous.

Triumphantly, I walked into the board room among the rest of the reporters, and sat down. At this moment, I felt better than I have in a long time. Here I was, in a press conference, independent, doing what the real journalists do. I was doing what I have wanted to do for years: real, honest to God reporting.

I opened up my notebook, ready to write down any important happenings that came my way, and looked up expectantly.

“Thank you for your time,” said the speaker at the podium to the gathered reporters (and me). “I hope this conference has been very helpful.”

As people stood up and began clearing out, I sat shocked in my seat. I had finally made it to the press conference, only to find that it was rude enough to be over when I got there. The shame.

The drive back was not fun. The attendant at the staff lot gave me a pity look as I drove in, and I flashed my best attempt at a smile at him. It probably looked more like a grimace.

I now sit at my desk, assigned to write my first ever article on my first ever press conference. My only sources are the written summaries of the conference which I was handed as I walked in.

I will, of course, not get paid for my efforts. But that’s okay. Really.



I have actually covered press conferences in my previous life and planned and executed them in my current life, if you need some help, email me, I’ll do what I can!


If you still have the press release for the conference, there’s most likely a contact number on it. If not, try looking in the phone book and getting the # for the public relations office of the hospital. They may have a full transcript they can fax you, or most likely they’ll be nice enough to answer any questions you have - helping the press is part of their job.

Good luck, sweetie. I remember my first days as a reporter (for which I was being paid), and I was scared shitless for about a month until I realized I really could do the job.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the other folks there when they’re not busy, too. It will show you are interested and that you really do care about doing a good job.

Just submitted the article to the editor. To telly you the truth, I think it’s actually pretty good.

I did, indeed have a contact number, which I called pretty much as soon as I got back to the paper’s office. From the woman there, I got a list of speakers and what they did, as well as a summary of the ideas covered. I forgot to mention in the OP that it was about fireworks injury prevention. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere.

Poysyn, thanks for the offer for help. It means a lot, and now that I know that you’re involved in press conferences, rest assured that you’ll be on the list of people to write when I’m in dire need of help.

And romansperson, thanks a bunch for the words of encouragement. I’ve been feeling pretty fried lately, and you definitely helped. With any luck, I may just be able to go somewhere in this profession. Once I start getting paid.

Anyway, I guess the real reason for the OP is to let me vent and focus my thoughts a bit, while hopefully providing some comic relief for all you board-dwellers out there. Hell, it’s no Wally, but it took me long enough. :wink:
I’m feeling a bit better now that I have the article out of the way, and I also think I’m going home pretty soon. The Guild (Writer’s Union) has this pesky rule that says non-paid interns can only work 23 and 1/2 hours a week, so I’ve got to conserve, conserve, conserve.

Of course, the paper could solve that problem, and get me to hang around longer, if they started paying me…


You are a lucky soul! I had no Guild to tell anyone when I should stop working!

And while what you covered feels pretty mundane to you, just remember that if ONE parent reads what you’ve written, and keeps his or her kid from mishandling fireworks over the holiday, then you’ve done something wonderful.

I’ve had a number of jobs over my lifetime - the very first one was as a pharmacy technician in high school, and my job was to work weekends and holidays. I don’t want to tell you what the 4th of July was like at the hospital, especially if it was on a weekend. And I worked at a private hospital, so we didn’t see the worst stuff.

I am glad you got through the whole thing OK - there will be a lot of things in the future that challenge you more, and test your mettle. May you come through them all with flying colors.

Jester, come down to the Heinz Center…you can intern with me-you get to set off alarms on exhibits and give the evil eye to kids goofing off!

fireworks are serious things. i’m sure you did very well.

Aw, Jester, you KNOW the real reason was because you wanted to goof off. You little sucker. :slight_smile:

Seriously I’m sure your article was really great. You’re a good writer, as far as I can tell from your threads. Good luck. :cool: I’m sure you’ll do a great job next press conference.

I guess I’m lucky getting paid 15 bucks an hour for my internship. :wink:

romansperson-Thanks once again. You’ve definitely helped make this whole thing easier. Also, thanks to both you and rockingchair for the words of encouragement. I hope the article at least helps somebody out there.

Guinistasia-Now that would be cool. However, it seems that I’m stuck here for the next four weeks. Still, I’m having much more fun than I let on, and am thorougholy enjoying myself. But shhhhhhhh…don’t tell anybody.

Zoggie-Thanks for the kind words. You’re the bestest buddy ever. :slight_smile:

And VenusGirlTrap-I have nothing to say except that I hate you. 15 dollars an hour?! Christ, that’s just insane. I hope it’s fun work, too!

Your editor sucks. A good editor would not throw someone into a shark tank like that with no time or directions to do the job. Also, did they issue you a rumpled trench coat and a fedora with a “PRESS” sticker in the hatband? Too bad you arrived to late to wave your pad in the air and yell, “I’m Jester from the Gazette!”

. . . Someday I wanna get a job at the Morning Sun just so I can leap into a room and yell, “I’m Golden from the Morning Sun!”