Breaking News & Business Journalism with CNBC Intern & Northeastern Student Christopher Butler
Northeastern student Christopher Butler, a third-year Journalism major with a minor in Psychology, spent his fall semester on co-op with the reputable television network CNBC, the world leader in business news and real-time financial market coverage. We caught up with Christopher to learn how he keeps up with breaking news, balancing his workload while working in two different departments, and the excitement behind story-telling. Read more below.
How did you prepare for your role at CNBC?
I started keeping up with what they were reporting on by reading articles and watching clips from their broadcast—so I could get a sense of what they cover and so I could generate some ideas about what I wanted to cover. Since it was my first co-op I didn’t exactly know how else to prepare or what to expect.
What does a typical day at CNBC look like for you?
I work in two different departments for CNBC. Two days a week I work with the breaking news desk, and three days a week I worked within special reports. With the news desk, I attend daily meetings, accumulate the day’s guest list, and help put together scripts for the “News Now” segment. But primarily, I help the producers prepare segments for breaking news, so every day is very different. With special reports, I pitch and write longer feature articles that go up on CNBC’s website.
What’s your creative process for writing and pitching stories?
To be honest, my writing process changes from story to story. With some stories, I gather all of the information, put together an outline for the story, and plan what I’d write before I even sit down at my computer. With others, I essentially “word-vomit” onto a document based on the information I have, then figure out my plan once I’m done with the writing. It really depends on how much information I have on the story and whether or not I know where I want to go with it.
“Sometimes, the best plan for a story is to have no plan.”
What is the most important thing you’ve learned at CNBC?
Since CNBC is a business news outlet, I learned a lot about business and business journalism. Before my co-op, business news wasn’t something I knew much about or had much experience in, so CNBC was an opportunity for me to learn more about that field. As college students, we don’t get a ton of exposure to that sector of journalism, so I’m really glad I now have that experience. Even if I don’t end up in business news, working at CNBC has solidified that I’m going into the right field. I’ve gotten to see first hand what it’s like to work in a real newsroom and how to do real reporting for an established news outlet.
What is your final message to students who are applying for a co-op or internship?
“Go with your gut.”
You know which co-op(s) you genuinely want, so aim for those and don’t sell yourself short.