How many international organizations/prime ministers did I interview this week?

For those of you that are not familiar with international politics, Europe is in a mass of chaos right now and it is our jobs as journalists to make some sense of everything and report it to the world. For those of you who have not been keeping up with my travels abroad, I am interning at Thomson Reuters in the TV department. Essentially what we do is report all of the big international news and we sell our videos and stories to other news stations and newspapers, etc.

Greece is currently in an economic crisis and they need to repay the IMF (International Monetary Fund) by June 30 or they will face default and potentially get kicked out of the EuroZone (but nobody actually seems to want that to happen). Basically, as the deadline approaches, our job as journalists is to keep up with the progress of the negotiations. The entire world has their eye on Greece right now.

This week, I reported for a meeting between President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem. We waited by the main entrance to get video of them arriving and leaving and I held the microphone and attempted ambush-like interviews. Not everyone came in the main entrance. but I interviewed Donald Tusk and Jereon Dijsselbloem. Now, they did not want to say much, but it was still very cool.

I got to go to Luxembourg this week for the Eurogroup meeting. We left on Wednesday night and went straight to work on Thursday morning. I covered the arrival of Christine Lagarde from the IMF. When she was in a meeting, we set up the live shot for the press conference. She mostly spoke in French, but I finally asked if she could repeat what she said in English also. (Many journalists were happy about that and we needed an English sound bite for our customers anyway). She essentially said that the IMF will not consider an extension and that Greece will face default if they do not make the repayment by the end of the month. She also criticized Greece for not reforming their pension plan. Our video can be found on all kinds of media sites, but here is one example!

Working for Thompson Reuters at the Lagarde press conference.

Working for Thompson Reuters at the Lagarde press conference.

Then, I went to the Eurogroup meeting where I held the microphone at the departures. Some of the Finance Ministers held press conferences that other coworkers covered, but some talked to me on the way out. It is a bit intimidating to say the least to be working with the world’s best journalists and interviewing such influential people. It’s especially intimidating to talk to the big names such as Greece’s Minister of Finance (since he is so important in the news right now), but the skills that I have learned at KOMU and in the J-School honestly have prepared me. I just have to calm my nerves and have faith in my reporting skills (easier said than done).

Taking a second to laugh while filming the Finance Minister departures at the Eurogroup meeting,

Taking a second to laugh while filming the Finance Minister departures at the Eurogroup meeting,

Basically, my internship is so much work. I am constantly working more hours than everyone and at weird times. I am almost never able to attend class and I had to take an exam the day before everyone else via Skype. Honestly, my days are long and exhausting. I am working harder than ever before. But at the end of the day, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. I am working for the world’s largest news agency in the most politically important city at such a critical time. All of that makes the hard work worth it.

My first days interning at Thomson Reuters

Bonjour from my office in Brussels, Belgium!

For those of you who do not know, I am interning at Thomson Reuters in the Brussels location TV department this summer. I know you all want to believe that I am spending my days eating waffles while wandering Europe, but with my internship and classes, I am really working most of the time.

My friends in journalism feel free to skip to the next paragraph because I am going to assume that you know what Thomson Reuters is (or at least, you probably should), but for those of you who don’t, I’ll explain a little about the company. Reuters is a news agency that provides content in over 100 countries and has over 600,000 employees across the world. What Reuters does is it sells their stories to news companies all around the world. For example, a story that our branch did last week was bought and used by BBC, CNN, etc.

I started my internship Wednesday and the first thing that we did was took a tour of the office, met our co-workers and got our workstations set-up. Then, we filled out information to send a media press pass request to the European Commission. However, before we could finish filing the request, there was breaking news and Haley and I (my friend that is also interning with me at Reuters) got to tag-along with the cameraman and reporter.

My boss saw a tweet that flights out of Brussels airport were cancelled, due to technical issues. So we grabbed the equipment and went to check it out. As soon as we got there, they got straight to work. The cameras are the same as the ones I use at KOMU, which I am excited about because Jan (the cameraman) seems to be a videography genius and I think I will learn a lot from him. He sets up shots so quickly and is constantly thinking in sequence (sorry if this post gets a little journalism nerdy). I just watched his ability to scan the room and think about every sequence that is necessary to tell the story. He used the tripod for most shots, but he also wasn’t afraid to crawl on the floor to get a good angle. One thing that I thought was great was that he got a lot of close-up facial reaction shots from passengers as they looked up at the board of all the flight cancellations.

Clement was the one conducting the interviews and writing the script and I also learned a lot from him. Reuters has a long stick mic, so they don’t have to tell people to run the mic up their shirt to hide the wires. This and the fact that there were two people working on the story allowed Clement to approach people as they were in line to figure out how to get to their end destinations, so he was able to get their initial reactions instead of giving them time to think about what they are going to say. That allowed for some more real and emotion-filled sound bites (they call them vox-pops).

They sat at a table after everything and Clement scripted in iNews while Yan cut the clips in Edius. Since this is a news agency and not station, they cut video into sequences and sound-bites that are longer so that news stations can use whatever video they please and can put it to the script that they write. So what does a news agency script look like then? The script is a shot list that describes the action in the shot or quotes the sound bite. Then underneath the shot list, they write the web story so that Reuters customers know what the story is about and can use that to write their own script. (Hopefully, this is making sense).

Anyway, when we got back we read some European news.

The next day of work, we did a lot of research about TTIP (an EU-US trade agreement) that will be making many headlines in June, the battle at Waterloo since the centennial anniversary is in June and about the Greek debt crisis, since we will also do many stories on that.

The next day at work, we watched the mid-day European Council press briefing and took notes and wrote down time codes of good sound bites (vox-pops). After lunch, we went to the European Council to get our press passes. I’m not going to lie, that made me feel pretty important.

Today is Monday and we really didn’t do very much at work today. We updated the big whiteboard with June’s calendar of events and watched the European Council mid-day briefings. We also looked over some stories from our co-workers because they like to make sure their translations to English make sense.

First few days in Brussels

We had a few days before our internship began to explore the city and run some errands. I think I didn’t realize that I would actually be living here and would need things like dish soap and toilet paper and trash bags. So that was definitely a hassle and we are nowhere near close to having everything that we need.

The second night we were here, Haley and I met Bell Johnson (who interned at Thomson Reuters last semester) for drinks at this bar that is famous for gin and tonics. She gave us some good advice about what to expect at work and it helped calm my nerves. On our way home, there was a jazz festival that Brussels has once a year, so we stopped in at that for a second. There was an outdoor stage set up where people could relax and enjoy the jazz music (and of course, there were beer tents).

That night we went to Delirium, which is a bar that has the world record for most beers on tap. We heard that this place is really fun, but definitely a touristy place. We figured, well we might as well go because we are tourists. It was definitely an experience. The guys in Belgium are much more forward. They will walk right up to you with no pickup line prepared and jump right in by saying something rudely inappropriate. The guys definitely annoyed me, but it never felt threatening, just annoying.

11224541_10206739419945292_4444908370479980663_n936659_10206739421145322_1078657925120268082_n

We got some beers at Delirium and then we went to another bar next door that has a bunch of types of tequila. It was a lot of fun. We ended up meeting a big group of people from London who were a blast. Overall, it was a great first night out with most of the people from our trip.

One thing that stood out was how late we got home! They don’t go out until so late that before we knew it, it was 4:30 a.m. I guess time flies when you’re having fun?

The next day we went to an area called Flagey, which is near our house. They have this sort of farmer’s market every weekend. We got some fruit there and it was honestly a great environment. It’s not a touristy area, so we finally felt like we were real Belgians. We stopped by a little park right nearby to relax by the lake before heading home.

IMG_3327IMG_3336

After the market, we headed Grand Place. Basically, if you were to Google Brussels, this is the area you would see. I can’t describe how beautiful the area is, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

1780812_10155601475670243_5080244376204437323_n 10559683_10153285835736136_6683176453906847572_n 11068230_10155601382025243_4410374981112679520_n 11071680_10155601381000243_5712388754573388510_n

Monday was a holiday (one of the ones that everyone is off work, but nobody really understands why). We had a walking tour planned for us by the program. It mostly at Grand Place again, but I finally got to see Manneken Pis, which is one of the most famous sites. Not sure why because it’s a tiny statue of a boy peeing. I probably should have paid more attention to the tour guide.

IMG_3398

Anyway, the tour was okay, but the waffle I got on the tour was what made my day. Now THIS was the AMAZING Belgium waffles that I heard so much about. This picture needs no explanation.

IMG_3397

On Tuesday, everyone started work except Haley and I. Our bosses just got back from a conference in Latvia, so they weren’t ready for us Tuedsay. It gave me time to catch up on my jet lag and run errands. After our friends got home from work, we went to a restaurant. I got lapin a la kriek (rabbit and red beer). Garreth, our program director, said we needed to try it and it was good. It was like a more gamey chicken leg.

I will write an update about my first two days at work soon!