I started my internship at the St. Petersburg Times this week. Though I feel much less excited and giddy about this opportunity than my first internship at a real newspaper, the Times is decidely more romantic. Its offices are located on the second floor of a proud old building on St. Isaac's square. The tall, west-facing windows in the press room open to a fantastic view of St. Isaac's cathedral, one of the most grand and beautiful in the world. The neighborhood is full of history and stories, with the Mariinsky Palace (a former royal residence and now the City Council building) on the north side of the square. The picturesque canals and bridges all around the area complete the romantic, European feel.
The building, as I said, is old and decidedly in disrepair. But I couldn't help grinning to myself while walking across the creaky, unfinished wooden floorboards. The press room seemed so stereotypical: old newspapers and magazines cover every square inch of shared table space and private desks are loaded with stacks of old articles, sources and stylebooks. The dozen or so reporters no longer tap on typewriters, but it almost feels like they should be. The busy silence in the room is occasionally punctuated by one or another of them shouting a style question to no one in particular or announcing a fresh news item.
Personally, I was put to work on a feature story about the 11 summers Johann Strauss Jr. spent here in Petersburg. Information on that long of a time period, even that long ago, was not too hard to find. Much easier, I'm afraid, than it will be to find information on Herbert Hoover's visits, my next assignment.
But overall I'm very happy with my internship because my editor is nice and because I have really no pressure to finish the articles for any real deadline. It's also nice to be able to write in English, although, I'm warned that I'll probably have to do some interviews for the pieces... and that means talking to Russians. Hmm...