Richard Martin Damas ’17 is a communication and media studies major who wants to be a sportscaster on ESPN. Through Colby-Sawyer’s affiliation with the Washington Internship Institute, he had a semester-long internship as a field producer with WJLA-TV ABC7 News Channel 8 in Washington, D.C., that moved him one step closer to that goal.
An Orientation Leader and a member of Colby-Sawyer’s track and field team, Damas is also an announcer for the Athletics Department and writes for the Colby-Sawyer Courier. In his free time, he likes to go to the gym, play video games and support his fellow Chargers when they compete.
What skills were required for your internship?
Energy, enthusiasm and a basic knowledge of sports. I worked for the sports and news departments, and I did different things with each.
For news, I attended 9 o’clock meetings with all the producers, reporters, managers, etc. We’d discuss the popular topics, assign reporters to stories and decide what time they would air. I was assigned to a reporter each day and went with them to cover whatever our story. I helped out by holding the microphone and sometimes even asking the questions. I helped with information gathering, holding the camera and anything they asked me to do.
My sports boss would text me the morning to tell me when I should come to work. Sometimes he would ask me to meet the camera man in the morning at the Washington Capitals or Wizards facility because we needed to cover a practice. We would film that and then go into the locker rooms to interview the players. I would hold the microphone up and ask questions. Then we’d go back to the studio to edit the clips and sound bites that would air later. I met and interviewed so many coaches and athletes. When I was in the studio for sports, I would help out by logging live games, meaning I would write down highlight plays to give to my boss so he knew which scenes to consider for sports packages.
Were the topics covered in the classroom at Colby-Sawyer reflected in your internship?
Colby-Sawyer is right on the money when it comes to its curriculum. In a news market, you have to be able to write as a public relations person, a sports writer and a news writer. The media program here does a great job of teaching us how to write engaging stories, which is what it takes to succeed in the news market media. Classes like Writing for Public Communication, Writing about Sports and Public Relations Writing are great classes that teach the principles of how to be a journalist.
What did you enjoy most about your internship?
I met so many people, and I especially enjoyed interacting with the professional athletes I grew up watching and playing with in video games. I also enjoyed meeting so many people in the news department. They treated me like family; I felt comfortable going to work every day.
The most challenging aspect was realizing how much work it takes to be a news reporter. The workload, the deadlines – everything that goes into that 90-second package takes an entire day to put together. It was a little scary to see how un-Hollywood this business really is, but it also made me realize this is only thing I can really see myself doing.
What else did you learn?
I learned what it takes to succeed as a journalist in a top TV news market, and in large part that means being an excellent writer. If you can write well, you will succeed in this business. I also realized how challenging it is to be in front of the camera. You have to speak to your audience as if you’re having a conversation with your best friend or a family member, and that is difficult to do when you’re reading from the prompter. You have to bring energy and enthusiasm to the camera, and it sounds simple, but it is hard to do.
Is Colby-Sawyer’s requirement of completing an internship is beneficial?
Very, because internships are key to getting a job after college. I met so many people already in the business, and they were more than willing to help a young intern find his way. Internships provide an opportunity to see what your dream job is actually like. It gives you real experience that you don’t get in the classroom, and that is priceless.