BY MARTIN MISIASZEK, Class of 2010
I wasn’t exactly thrilled about participating in my school’s “Senior Seminar.” I have a bit of an infamous reputation among my classmates as an over-achiever who is somewhat “in love” with school: the teachers, the socializing, and yes—the academics and school work. Therefore, giving up my last two weeks of school in exchange for working—unpaid—wasn’t even close to appealing.
Flash forward to today, Day 7 of my internship here at the Catholic Communications Corporation (CCC) for the Diocese of Springfield. With being half way done with this internship, I can sincerely say that had I been faced with the choice to remain in school or intern here at the CCC for these two weeks, interning may have the upper hand. I will share my experiences so far, some behind the scenes details, and why this experience has turned out to be exactly what was hoped for by my school administrators.
Day 1: “Go straight on. After about 600 feet, merge onto Route 291.” I’m from the very small and isolated town of Granby. I have never driven myself to this part of Springfield. So, when my GPS system told me to take 291, I immediately said to myself, “There’s a 291?” I have been on and heard of 391 and 91 plenty of times, so when I was instructed to go onto a highway that I’ve never heard of (but later found out I have been on it countless times with my parents) I realized just how isolated I was. Immediately exiting the highway, I locked my car doors and rolled up the windows. I was in Springfield, after all. In fact, when my mother asked me if I was nervous at all that morning, it wasn’t because of starting this internship or making a bad impression, it was driving into Springfield everyday. However, my commute turned out to be uneventful. And I discovered a new side of Springfield, something that would turn into a fondness on Day 4.
I met with Sr. Cathy Homrok at 10:30 a.m., after arriving close to 15 minutes early (I overestimated my commute). From the instant I met Sr. Cathy, I knew I was in incredibly good hands for this seminar.
She’s organized. She’s always on her A-game. She’s the quintessential mentor to have for guiding me through this process. Unlike some seminar mentors of my peers who seem to be inconvenienced by the students, Sr. Cathy makes me one of her top priorities. Having her as a mentor has turned what could have been a bad experience for this internship into a great one.
After Sr. Cathy showed me my schedule for the week (I’d actually be able to go on filming segments!) she gave me a brief tour of the office building. Meeting all the office staff, there was one thing that was extremely apparent—there was not one unwelcoming face, something I probably would not have been able to find at other potential sites. My favorite was meeting everyone in the news room: Terry Hegarty, Sharon Roulier, and Peggy Weber. The way they joked and laughed together made me look forward to joining this news “family.”
After getting acquainted with everyone, Sr. Cathy left me to work with Peggy, who would give me an introduction into the CCC’s Facebook page, blog (wmasscatholicvoices.wordpress.com), and the Diocese’s new magazine, The Catholic Mirror. Being placed to work with Peggy was a little ironic, to say the least. Recently, I accepted Fairfield University’s offer for admission and, with great regret, turned down Providence College.
Peggy happens to be a Providence alum, with all three of her children alumni as well. Even walking into her office, I noticed the PC paraphernalia and the socks on her feet that proudly displayed “Friars.” So when I told her the decision I made for school, she looked me up and down and simply told me to get out of her sight. She was obviously joking and still does to this day.
I spent the remainder of the day learning of journalistic techniques and philosophies from Peggy, along with meeting the countless faces who popped their heads into her office to ask the “Office Mother.” As Peggy and I were discussing journalism’s upgrade to 21st Century advances, she showed me a YouTube video made by her son, Matt, a graduate student at Harvard. “The Spirit of the Harvard Graduate School of Education” was simply written and edited, yet its message that “people represent places” really struck a chord with me. In a way gave me new insight to making new impressions as I enter college. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcWzk_pgerc.
Day 2: Coming into the office for 11:30 a.m. was quite a change for me, especially since I’ve been used to going into school for 7:30 a.m. In fact, I was pacing the house all dressed and ready, waiting for it to be time for me to commute.
After doing my daily ritual check-in chat with Sr. Cathy, we were off to the logging station. Logging a piece from a video “shoot” is a unique process. Like most people, I assumed that after something is recorded, it is immediately sent to the editing room and that is where it is pieced together. However, Sr. Cathy and Peggy showed me that the reporter in charge of the story is responsible for “logging” the pieces of the features they want to use and then send those for editing, to be pieced together by the editor.
For example, if part of the interview contained the interviewee stuttering or rubbing his/her face, the reporter would probably not want to use that portion. Yet when there is an exceptional quotation from the interviewee, the reporter would log the time when the quotation begins and ends, then send all their logs to the editor for the final project. Because there are only two viewing stations, the viewing room can get a little chaotic, with different reporters fighting for the stations to log. Therefore, each reporter has to fill their names in a schedule for a designated time for their own logging. All around the office I’ll always hear, every single day, “Are you logging? Have you logged? When are you logging?” With that being said, logging is a pretty big deal here at the CCC.
After Sr. Cathy showed me a piece she did a couple weeks ago and described all the different techniques she kept in mind, I was introduced to the videographer, Owen Seery and reporter, Steve Kiltonic, with whom I’d be accompanying to shoot an interview for the story “Deacon Detective.”
It was kind of a surreal experience, being my first time standing behind the camera and lights, while seeing Steve prep Angel Perez’s house. Angel was, to me, a perfect interview. His most memorable quotation he said that night was that when he is out patrolling, he doesn’t see black or white; he only sees the color of the police—blue. That line stayed with me, showing that he is living his faith and reiterating the idea that God, too, is color blind.
I got home later that night to a house with a sink full of dirty dishes and a stove with leftovers wrapped in tinfoil. For the first time, I experienced what the life of a working professional felt like.
Day 3: The third day of my internship felt like the pivotal moment which my past days were leading up to—the host segment. This would be where the hosts of Real to Real—Ken Lancaster and Sharon Roulier—would go on location to film their opening remarks, teasers, and other host duties for the upcoming episode. This week’s host site was at Our Lady of Fatima in Ludlow, a modernly beautiful church. What popped out at me the most was the stunningly intricate mosaic that housed the altar. The pictures I took of it do not do it justice in any sense.
After setting up the cameras and lights in the church (one of the most tedious duties I’ve encountered) for the hosting segments, Ken and Sharon began to read through their script. It was amusing to see how one moment they were talking to the production staff in their normal speaking voices, yet when time came for them to read off the script, thundering, articulate voices came out. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself, wondering if those were the same people I just heard speaking before.
The hosting segments took about a dozen takes—more than usual, according to Ken. Several times both hosts broke out in laughter, lost their place on the rolling script underneath the camera, or began reading too fast or too slowly. It was refreshing too see how down to earth they were about it, though. A lot of the time, Ken and Sharon didn’t like the way things came out.
The day continued with setting up and moving the cameras to different locations throughout the parish for different interviews and Ken’s introductions. Ken really impressed me. Although he could perhaps be viewed as unapproachable because he is seen on T.V. weekly, he was extremely down to earth and on solid ground with the rest of the crew. Countless times he would point something out to me, or explain a concept or duty. He always took into consideration that I was an intern there to learn and never seemed inconvenienced by my disruption to the norm, something one doesn’t see too often.
Day 4: I accompanied Sr. Cathy and Owen to the third grade of St. George/St. Joan of Arc School in Chicopee to film “b-roll” for a piece Sr. Cathy did on a project based on the book series Flat Stanley. I was looking forward to going because a close friend of mine, Jen Pytka, was doing her Senior Seminar at this school in none other than the third grade. It was disappointing to not see her everyday at HCHS (our lockers were right next to each other and we had six of our seven classes together, not to mention talking on the phone most nights), so it was exciting that our paths were able to cross.
Sr. Cathy interviewed a few more students while Owen filmed the b-roll for her feature. B-roll is something I’ve always been familiar with, yet never knew the name for it. When there is an action shot on a television program (perhaps someone writing at a desk or reading a book) with a voice-over speaking, those action shots are known as b-roll.
Upon returning to the office, I met with Peggy (decked out in a Providence sweatshirt) and headed over to St. Michael’s Cathedral for Ascension Thursday Mass, joined by the rest of the CCC staff. It was such a luxury to have a seminar site where I could just simply cross the street to fulfill my holy day obligation, rather than having to worry about attending the 7 p.m. Mass at my own parish. Also, it was really nice seeing the cathedral—my first time being inside.
After Mass, Peggy gave me a mini walking tour of Springfield as we went to return some books to the library. As I mentioned, being from Granby really isolated me, so I had never been to the Springfield museums. I was able to feel like a kid again by sitting with the Dr. Seuss characters, and photographing the stunning architecture of the Springfield library.
Then Peggy showed me Mattoon Street. I was absolutely floored. I had never known such a quaint and polished neighborhood existed in the same city that the news portrays as the most dangerous of the state. The brick facades, the elaborate entrance steps, the Victorian street lamps, and the cobblestone sidewalks reminded me of Greenwich Village. My eyes were opened to the beauty of Springfield, and I felt rather foolish for thinking so negatively of the city previously.
Day 5: The last day of my first week of seminar was very laid-back and calm. Because most of the staff was gone to meetings or graduations out of town (Peggy was attending the commencement at—you guessed it, Providence College), the only available thing for me to do was to attend a shoot at Angel Perez’s house to get b-roll of him and his family. I went again with Owen, which is always fun, because he is down right hilarious. Also, it was nice because I had spent the past three days with him on shoots, so a type of camaraderie had developed.
Day 6: I had the opportunity to sit in on the live taping of Chalice of Salvation on Sunday morning. When I walked into the control room next to the chapel where the mass is filmed, I felt as though I had walked into a science fiction cockpit. Countless switchboards, computers, and flat screen televisions filled the place wall to wall.
The director, Ed Knowlton (who also works for WWLP) along with the rest of the staff were very welcoming. Sitting in on a live show was definitely an experience. Perhaps experience isn’t the right word. It was more like an anxiety attack. So many things can go wrong, from certain cameras not making connections to microphones not working. There was a lot of activity going on.
The Assistant Producer, Marie Renaud, summed it up perfectly when she said, “It’s always different each week in the control room.” Right as the show was about to start, Ed and the Producer, Br. Terrence Scanlon (and one of the nicest men I have ever met), asked if the microphones were all on, something I began to worry about because there were about 20 seconds to show time. Luckily, it took about two seconds to double check, and then all systems were go.
I was floored by the tasks that Ed was faced with. Once he put the head set on, he started pointing and rambling out commands like, “Input B standby,” as if it were by instinct.
The show ran positively smoothly while it was being filmed, fitting it’s runtime of 59:25 perfectly. I was a little taken aback at the manner with which the staff exited the control room, for they didn’t say anything like, “Oh, that was a close one.” I suppose for them it is just business as usual.
I’m finishing this blog entry right in the middle of my second week of my seminar. In a couple of days, it will be time for me to say goodbye to all the welcoming staff that I have gotten to be close with and then begin preparing for graduation. It is really unfortunate that this internship is already coming to an end. Even though this week is normal for the CCC—different shoots, the hosting segment Wednesday, preparing the Observer—I am still eager to see and learn more. My friends and perhaps a lot of my teachers will think I am insane, but I wish seminar lasted a bit longer. To get so close to people for two weeks and then suddenly it is taken away is a little painful. But those are the same feelings I am associating with graduation—we dedicate ourselves to the same building, the same people for four years, when suddenly it is taken away and we have to move on to experience new things, new people, new aspects of ourselves.
My time here at the CCC seems a little unfair, because it is giving me a false sense of what the work force is truly like. Everywhere I work in the future probably won’t compare to the family I found myself immersed in. I hope I can be lucky enough to find a place of employment where my job isn’t just a “job,” but a place where I can grow as an individual, just like the CCC provides. In Matt Weber’s simple college video I saw on my first day, he claimed that people represent places. I couldn’t state it any better to describe my positive experience here with Catholic Communications.