Hannah Popham is one of the three Campus.ie contributors who won a paid internship with the Irish Independent for the summer.

“Tomorrow is literally going to be them showing you where the kettle is,” assured one of my long suffering friends as I fretted over my last minute nerves, having but a few hours to prepare myself for an internship which I had spent an entire eight months furiously typing to earn.

The “smart casual” interpretation was hanging patiently next to my mirror. As it happened, the reality of my first day in a national newspaper could not have been less like that initial prediction.

At first impression, the inside of a newsroom is not quite like any other office in the city. Multiple television screens hang intrusively at several corners of the room, constantly broadcasting information on Sky News until on queue at 5.30 and 6.00 the volume is turned up so that the Irish news can be observed and quickly taken note of.

Across from our desks, an all-male group of sports reporters monitors screens showing Wimbledon and the Dublin and Galway match, cheering quietly in delight when a goal or a point is scored.  The newsroom is empty until half ten, when Ireland begins to wake up and churn out its own events.

Jedward

On my second morning, I was presented with a press release of a promotional event happening with Jedward in twenty minutes, and told to get a few quotes. I then sprinted down Talbot Street in the rain only to come upon them posing with their young fans. Unable to find other journalists, I scrambled onto a promotional bus behind Jedward, explaining that I was with the Indo.

Upstairs, I was unable to locate my recording app so pathetically scribbled down half of a video interview with the boys with Glenda Gilson for Xposé, and half of a conversation with their mother about their recent tour. Mortifyingly, towards the end of the interview John and/or Edward noticed my silence, touched my wrist and asked me: "What did YOU want to ask? What’s written down in YOUR notes?"

The courts

Later that day, I was asked to shadow a full-time reporter at a manslaughter trial. As we arrived to the impressive newly opened Criminal Court of Justice, we stepped into a glass lift filled with the buzz of another trial in which the defendant had sacked his legal team that morning. We passed their court, which was bordered by further security frames, and headed towards our court, sitting a few feet from the defendant who sadly was actually a few months younger than me.

A few days later, told it would be a slow day, I was sent to attend an auction in the Shelbourne Hotel to go to an auction, shadowing one of the journalists. I crossed the picket line of protesters into the room, unaware that they would be central to the events about to unfold.

"Out, out"

Suddenly, a man stood up and desperately asked bidders not to bid on his property as it had been in his family for over one hundred years. This sparked another man from between the rows of potential bidders to shout down at the auctioneer regarding the legal ownership status of many of the properties. The auctioneer was patient, but avoided the question.

The man began to get livid and is joined by other voices who begin to shout “out, out”. Following further disruption, an announcement is made and the auction is cancelled. The auctioneers stand strong in the corner, with the gardaí in the other corner, as we filtered out to interview protesters and bidders alike.

Following my first week, I felt an incredible new-found awareness of all of the main national events, mostly from eavesdropping on telephone calls of the most important reporters situated around my desk.

It was tough to hit the ground running but I learned more skills in a week than in several years of writing for college publications. Most excitingly, the back of my head has now been featured twice on the news and it is my full intent to raise that number.

Highlights this week

Interviewing

Attending

  • A day in the zoo to interview zookeepers and Home and Away star Dan Ewing                                   

  • An impromptu promotional Riverdance and Brian Kennedy performance in Connolly Station at 8am                              

  • A practice parachuting onto the beach with the Irish Defence Forces for Bray Air Show