Phantom protesters and vanishing stories don't daunt new reporter
By Jasmeet Sidhu
I am one of the six summer interns who arrived at the Toronto Star this week.
We shared a mix of excitement, nervousness, apprehension and anxiousness to get started on writing our award-winning features and to break this summer’s big news story.But our dreams of glory were put on hold for the first couple of days, as we went through the grind of computer and safety training, seminars on how not to get sued for libel (or get sued at all), how not to get tear-gassed at the G20 protests next week, and various helpful talks from senior editors and reporters at the Star on how to survive and thrive at the newspaper.
My first official day of reporting was Thursday. When I was a radio room reporter I was bound by the walls of the office as I constantly monitored police scanners so I was thrilled with the prospect of leaving the newsroom on my first story.
The assignment? To chase down the supposed first protest of the G20 happening on Bay St. With a notepad in hand I ran out the building and ran up Bay St., not finding anyone in sight. After talking to some cops and getting tips from pedestrians, I chased the trail of these remarkably fast-moving protesters west on King St.
“You’re three minutes behind them!” one hot-dog vendor yelled at me as I continued to sprint. But lo and behold, after the trail ran cold at King St. W and Spadina Ave. I heard from a cop that the group of 20 people who were apparently drenched in oil dispersed 10 minutes earlier. No protest. No story. All I had to look forward to was a long hot walk back to One Yonge St.
However, I was given another assignment almost immediately: write a short feature on the problem of female trafficking in Indonesia, to be part of the G20 spread in Sunday’s paper highlighting the issues women face across the world. It was a great piece to write -- however, I heard from my team editor today that they might not have space for it come Sunday. I suppose chasing non-existent stories and being cut from the paper comes with the territory of being a summer intern.
That was day one. Friday I was again sent protest-sniffing, but this time to the news conference of the People’s Summit, an activist conference being held in Toronto on the weekend ahead of the G20 summit. Sitting in the media scrum beside reporters from the National Post, CBC, CTV, and 680 news, I thought about how far I’ve come since the days I used to write my name in the byline section on Toronto Star articles as a kid, imagining one day that I could be a reporter.
And now it’s actually happening. It should be a good summer.
Jasmeet Sidhu is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto’s Peace and Conflict Studies program. She is a summer reporter at the Toronto Star. Follow her on Twitter or phone her at the office - 416-945-8604 or drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org