The Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield, MA
For the past few years, my summer plans have been touch-and-go. This year, I decided to avoid last minute drama; I’d lock down an internship early and supplement my summer with a waitressing job. I applied to and received an internship at Symphony Space, a neighborhood venue for artistic expression, and looked forward to working in the performing arts. Then, the pandemic hit, shutting down the performing arts world and altering my summer.
I was frustrated, like so many of my peers, yet also excited by the freedom I now had to pursue employment opportunities in another career field I was considering—journalism. I had written local stories for The Williams Record, and worried that my internship at Symphony Space would not afford the same opportunities as a journalism internship provides to strengthen writing skills and build a professional writing portfolio. On a whim, I emailed the team at The Berkshire Eagle and asked whether they’d take on a remote intern and to my delight, Lindsey Hollenbaugh welcomed me into the Features Department.
As a remote Features intern, I wrote an article a week on arts and culture in the Berkshires. I interviewed award- winning authors (Lily King), famous Shakespearean actresses (Tina Packer) and fellowship-winning artists (Mary Lum). I already knew Berkshire County was full of accomplished people, but I found it especially interesting to connect with them during a time when many found their work disrupted by the pandemic. For instance, Lily King had to postpone her book tour, Tina Packer had to close Shakespeare & Company for the summer and Mary Lum was looking ahead to teaching at Bennington in the fall. Though remote reporting lacked much of the in-person observation and connection that drew me to journalism initially, the connection my calls and Zooms gave me to Berkshire County residents made me feel in touch with my community when I couldn’t be physically present.
I had originally hoped to join The Eagle as a theatre criticism “apprentice,” as I love theatre and wanted to learn to review shows. Unfortunately, without live performances, there was little to interview. In August, however, the first live performance in the entire country featuring Equity actors was approved to go up—in Pittsfield! Since I had expressed interest in criticism, I was tapped to attend. While many of the stories I wrote for The Eagle were clearly in the realm of local news, Berkshire Theatre Group’s production of Godspell made national news. In the press row at Godspell, I sat right in front of Ben Brantley, the New York Times’ chief theatre critic. I tried to contain my excitement when introducing myself as “Lily from The Eagle.”
I’m grateful to The Berkshire Eagle for such a rewarding experience and to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for helping me explore Features Journalism. I know now that this is a passion of mine, and I look forward to exploring both writing and Berkshire County more in the years to come.