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Freya Pratty Williams: learn how papers shape their international news coverage
September 2, 2019
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In June 2019, the MediaLab Campus project awarded internship grants to ten female students and five male students studying journalism in schools across Europe and the Mediterranean and looking to undertake an internship in a foreign media outlet over the summer. Freya Pratty Williams, student at Sciences-Po Paris, in France, is interning at Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, in July / August 2019.
"The Medialab Campus scholarshiphas allowed me to spend two months in Beirut working at The Daily Star - a daily newspaper covering Lebanese current affairs and culture. I've been working on the Lebanon desk, writing features articles. I've written about a diverse range of subjects - from architecture to cliff diving and from ultra-running to virtual reality. My favourite piece was about Lebanon's bee population, exploring how the native bees are struggling to compete with an influx of bees from abroad, which are being brought to the country for their superior honey production levels.
The project meant I could travel to different parts of the country to interview beekeepers, visiting small villages I wouldn't have encountered as a tourist to the country. The story was also a great lesson in juggling two different opinions in an article - the beekeepers really didn't agree with each other! Through my other articles I've been able to travel to towns and cities across the country: Tripoli in the North, to Tyre in the South, to the Cedar forests and to the Bekaa valley.
Writing these articles has given me a wealth of experience in finding sources, interviewing people, fact checking and perfecting my written style. It's also been great to work with the paper's editors, who've provided valuable feedback on my work, and to work alongside other journalists, getting to see how they find stories and pursue investigations. Throughout my two months, I've also helped work on the paper's foreign desk, compiling articles about world events by using information from news agencies. This was useful because it helped me learn how papers shape their international news coverage to be regionally angled.
I also wrote an article about Idlib in Syria for the foreign desk, covering the three-day ceasefire there in August. I found sources in the province on Twitter and was able to speak to doctors and residents, as well as the Head of the Syrian Civil Defence- the 'White Helmets'. This was a great lesson in covering fast moving events- during the writing of the article the ceasefire was declared and then called off again, meaning I had to adapt my angle continually.
It's been an interesting two months to be in Lebanon for, with key political events happening frequently. Learning about the country from people living here has dwarfed the understanding I got from textbooks before I got here, and it's taught me to question the information we get projected to us from abroad. I've learnt a huge amount about what it's like to work as a journalist, including lots of practices which I foresee looking back on throughout my career as guidance. I am extremely grateful for the scholarship for enabling me to do this, I would have struggled to make these steps without it."