‘Part of one of the biggest news events of the summer’

By Allegra Tepper

It was supposed to be a typical day at the research desk at People Magazine’s Los Angeles Bureau. Esther Zuckerman ’08 arrived at the office prepared for another day of fact checking, cover pitches and phone calls, but on June 25, she instead found herself in the sea of reporters outside of the UCLA Medical Center, awaiting the latest news on the death of Michael Jackson.

Zuckerman stayed on the Jackson story for the following four days, alternating shifts in front of the Jackson family’s Encino home with other interns at People. She describes the opportunity to be “part of one of the biggest news events of the summer” as a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

“I got to experience a lot of different media outlets just by being there,” Zuckerman said. “I saw how the big news teams worked; I was standing behind the BBC and reporters getting video coverage for news stations from all over the world. Being a contributing reporter for the story on Michael Jackson’s funeral was so exciting.”

Along with covering the Jackson story, Zuckerman also wrote articles and contributed as a reporter for both People’s print edition as well as the “dot com.” Among her bylines were stories about “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson’s appearance at Comic-Con, actors Fred Armisen and Elizabeth Moss’ matrimonies and Harry Potter star Emma Watson’s matriculation to Brown University. Even on her first day on the job Zuckerman attended and reported on Jay Leno’s final days hosting “The Tonight Show,” another reporting experience she called “historic.”

“It was a good summer to be in Los Angeles for celebrity news,” Zuckerman said.

Zuckerman is a sophomore at Yale University, where she is a reporter for The Yale Daily News. An aspiring journalist, Zuckerman was Managing Editor of The Chronicle while a student at Harvard-Westlake. A fellow staff veteran, former Editor in Chief Michael Kaplan ’08 also worked as an interning journalist this summer at FOX College Sports.

While Kaplan describes FOX as “a big bureaucratic red tape company,” he was still able to pitch his own ideas as an intern. One of these ideas, “The College Intern,” came to fruition as a weekly series. According to FOX College Sports, Kaplan’s series is a tailgating guide for some of the best Saturday experiences across the country.

“It was my baby,” Kaplan, who is currently majoring in journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, said. “FOX’s [TailGate Tour 2008] profiled different schools’ games, and I decided to do the article version. I really wanted to give the college student’s perspective, not that of alumni or boosters.”

In addition to writing seven installments of “The College Intern” on schools such as Louisiana State University and University of Miami, Kaplan worked on FOX programming and marketing when he wasn’t writing for the website.

As one of only two college-age interns in the department, Kaplan worked alongside professionals and sat at his own desk in the newsroom where a TV pumped Sports Center into his head all day, Kaplan said.

Kaplan’s web clips range from debates on heated topics in college athletics with fellow students to reporting-heavy features such as “Life After Football,” which tells the story of Western Washington University cutting its Division III football team due to budget cuts.

Both Zuckerman and Kaplan have plans of continuing to contribute to their respective publications during their sophomore year.