Sunday, November 28, 2004

Premier jour au stage

My first (real) day of my internship was pretty good. 

I was supposed to be there for the daily 9:15 a.m. meeting, but as I haven't woken up in the 7 o'clock hour in quite some time, getting out of the house took longer than I thought it would. I was there by 9:18, and then realized I had no idea where the meeting would be within the six-story building. When I finally got there, no one seemed too concerned that I was late, as I had expected. I've learned that people in this country just don't get all that worked up about that sort of stuff. Whenever you get here is fine... whatever...

The meeting was an hour-long and I understood about 50%... maybe less. I was trying to pay attention, stay awake and look professional all at once and I discovered I could only do one of those things at once. Afterwards, I followed my editor back to his office. There, I read the day's paper and tried to pay attention to all the things going on. See, I'm in "observer" mode right now, which means they have no idea what to do with me, so I just hang around until something interesting falls out of the sky.

Around noon, something does. A journalist is going out to meet a specialist in child sex abuse who's just arrived in town from Paris for a debate. I go with her and hang in the shadows as she conducts an interview in the middle of Part Dieu, a huge train station. What I could both hear and understand was quite interesting, but the interview was quickly over and I returned to the office with still nothing to do. 

They sent me home for a four-hour lunch break and then I came back to follow the same journalist. But at 4 p.m. there's another daily meeting where editors sit around and go: "Seriously guys, what are we putting in the paper tomorrow?" so I sit in on that and experienced my most embarrassing moment of the day. Halfway through, the editor-in-chief comes in. There are no more chairs and as I'm only an intern and he's the most powerful man at the paper, I get up and offer him my chair. He gives me the most incredulous look and says "That'll be the day, when I take a chair from a young woman." He looked half-insulted. But the news editor just said "oh, she's American, that's why" and he calmed down.

The journalist whom I'm supposed to accompany never shows, so I find someone whom I suppose is the most annoying man in the pressroom. I loved him. I say he's the most annoying man in the pressroom because all he does is talk a lot about a lot of things and works very slowly. For everyone else this totally sucks. But for me, it was great because he explained all kinds of stuff that everyone else is too busy to explain. I'll have to remember that after I get up to speed and he becomes annoying to me.

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