UMA ILS Student Lands New York Times Internship

DanielNortonDaniel Norton, a student in UMA’s online Information and Library Services program, has taken his role as a student in the field very seriously. “I view it as the perfect opportunity to explore my options as a fledgling professional in environments that are conducive to turning mistakes into valuable learning experiences," he explains.

Imagine then that his passion for exploration landed him a position at one of the most highly respected news outlets in the world, where he gained considerable experience with the collection and management of information that supports the breaking stories distributed through The New York Times' various channels of reporting.

According to Daniel, the navigation of records, archives and databases is crucial to the integrity of news stories, and as the world continues its transition into the digital realm, the practice of verifying information has become more complex. “In the past,” says Daniel, “journalists had the opportunity to nurture relationships with clerical workers in records settings. Today, the shift to digital access has removed the human element and placed increased emphasis on search and systems proficiency. This creates the need for people fluent in navigation methods to efficiently and effectively gather the information needed to support factual news coverage.”

When asked about a typical day on the job, Daniel says that "every day is completely different. The traditional duties of a librarian, such as collection management, circulation procedures, and documentation happen alongside the more compelling activities of news research, which include editorial meetings, supporting the efforts of journalists, and working within the time constraints of looming deadlines.”

The New York Times maintains a sizable reference library, a photo archive, and a record of its own history, which spans an entire century. Along with the more mundane tasks of tending to these physical holdings, the research team is also responsible for managing database access, training reporters on the utilization of resources and research procedure, as well as fulfilling requests for uncovering facts.

“Being a comprehensive news outlet,” says Daniel, “the librarians are exposed to all areas of news coverage, which ensures a broad and exciting range of queries. Sometimes you're navigating a database in order to provide information on land ownership, other times you're building profiles for a suspected killer, and sometimes you're looking up information on immigrant nationalization. It's comparable to working in a public library setting, it varies, but the gravity of the information you're seeking feels more pressing."

Of the overall experience, Daniel says that he "gained insight into many things. I learned how news librarians collect, manage and redistribute information that supports the efforts of journalists, as well as their processes for documenting the history of their organization and its contributors. I learned how news stories grow from a seed of curiosity into a full-blown, juicy scoop on something pertinent to the world at large. I learned how to connect the dots, how to consider things in creative ways, how to navigate multiple types of databases; about laws governing our freedom to know, and our freedom to share what we’ve learned. I gained real-world experience in my chosen field, and I gained the confidence I need to apply my skills in professionally."

Halfway towards meeting his degree requirements, Daniel is looking forward to more opportunities to engage with his education. He is excited to learn, grow, and gain insight into the many ways in which information professionals employ their skill-sets.

(Before earning their degree, ILS students must complete an on-site internship within a library or information services setting. Already employed as a paraprofessional at the New York Public Library's Mid-Manhattan branch, Daniel sought to explore alternative pathways within his chosen profession.)