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Rising senior: 'my internship with Tim Russert'

Caroline Gransee '09 poses with Tim Russert on the
set of 'Meet the Press.'
 
July 10, 2008

Editor's note: Caroline Gransee '09 recently completed an internship at NBC's "Meet the Press," where she had the opportunity to work with Tim Russert, who hosted the show for 17 years until he died June 13, 2008. Gransee wrote the following piece for the Connecticut College alumni magazine shortly after Russert's death.

Washington, D.C. - After the taping wrapped up, he walked off the set towards my co-intern and me. As the legendary moderator of "Meet the Press," Tim Russert, approached us he asked what our thoughts were on that day's show. When our conversation ended, he reached his hand out to me. After reading Tim's first book, Big Russ and Me, I knew that he believed a handshake was a great signifier of an individual's merit; I nervously grasped his hand and prayed that I would pass the test.

This snippet from my four months of interning at MTP is just one example of Tim's excellent character, which had a great effect on NBC's culture. I believe that Tim is at least partially responsible for creating the station's friendly environment. The NBC employees will always smile in the halls and ask how you are - a rarity in this cutthroat, high-pressure industry.

In the wake of Tim's passing, I've been reflecting on my internship at MTP, Russert's legacy, and what I've learned.

Lesson 1: Prepare for the task at hand. During the week, I observed and helped research for the upcoming show. By Sunday, everything was ready to come together for when the show aired - live - at 9 a.m. But before the show aired, the highlight of my Sundays was to "sneak" into Studio A to watch rehearsal, where Tim would diligently practice each interview question as though the guest were sitting next to him.

Lesson 2: Check your ego at the door. Tim and the whole MTP staff were always extremely humble, a rare quality in a city of egos. Tim's preparation and humility truly set him apart from the other Sunday morning hosts.

Lesson 3: Take advantage of opportunities. Everyone at NBC has gotten where they are because they used their resources. Through CELS and the study-away office, I found the Washington Semester Program and this internship. Once I got to D.C., I made the best of my experience.

Lesson 4: Check the facts. My professors, including Dorothy James, and my mentors at NBC, such as Michelle Jaconi (a MTP producer), have taught me to question what I know, to double-check facts, and how to communicate these facts, all of which are critical skills for an aspiring journalist to possess.

I'll never know whether I passed Tim's handshake "test," but I do know that he and MTP had such a profound impact on me that I took a leap of faith. I decided to stay at the bureau for the summer - and to stay in Washington in the fall - to see this election season through, all in the hopes of pursuing a journalism career. Through Connecticut College's help, I have been able to pursue my dream, and with a little luck and hard work, I hope to return to the bureau after graduation and help to carry on Tim's legacy of quality and fair reporting.

-Caroline Gransee '09

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