Just graduating from my masters program at one of the top journalism schools in the country, I came here thinking I had a lot of experience and this was a way to strengthen my skills. While NextGen was that, it was also something more. Having a one on one mentor is crucial. Reflecting on school it is incredible to think that there was no one going out on reporting assignments with me correcting mic holding techniques and interjecting when I should be asking a follow up question.

When Monica Ortiz Uribe, my mentor, and I went out in the field to do our first interview I was super nervous. I had never had someone watch over my shoulder while I interviewed someone. I have been doing this for seven years just picking up tricks on my own. Now here is this experienced journalist watching me.

On the way over she asked what I wanted her role to be. I figured since I had never had someone with me I asked her to definitely jump in, correct me, help me, make suggestions, I wouldn’t be offended at all. I asked her to act like my producer; and I am so happy I did.

There were questions I asked that she followed up on that I never would have thought to ask, but were so crucial. In the moment I am so concerned with letting the interviewee speak and tell their story that I forget to follow up to get the necessary details in the moment. In our second interview Monica also showed me how to rephrase my questions in different ways to get different responses.

Monica also challenged me to get out of my comfort zone. In our initial interview I told her my weakness was collecting good sound. I could do an interview but thinking about ambient sound and getting that sound was something I was less familiar with.

Monica did not hesitate to stop the interview when a group of kids came to play by us, tell me to get up, get in there, and get the sound of them playing. It was SO awkward and so not me to invade someone’s space like that. But I did it, and was annoyed at the time, but was really glad I did and understand the value in getting that sound.

I had never been out with a professional watching them work or having them help me work. It was probably the most valuable learning experiences I have had my entire journalism career.

I feel really lucky to have been paired with Monica. She was really patient and understanding, but also pushed me. She didn’t just take the work and do it for me if I was doing it wrong or my brain was fried from being on overdrive. She really had me do my own work and taught me how to do it better.

At NextGen everyone was a mentor. It was amazing to have people here who are here to dedicate their time to you, helping you improve. At school that is the professor’s job, too, but they have way more students and other jobs to tend to that the time they can give is much less.

Sitting with Leslie Gaston, the sound engineer, was also so exciting for me. She went through my piece in detail, explaining every edit to me. As someone who is advanced in ProTools learning the “nerdy” details of sound engineering, and having her explain the edits, how they work, why she is doing them, what the fix is was thrilling.

NextGen was an amazing experience. I am so glad Doug encouraged me to apply. No only have I improved my skills, but I have learned new ones and new techniques to further me in my career. I have also networked with amazing reporters and people who will also help me on on my career path.

But lastly, NetGen wasn’t just work, it was also fun. Traci and Doug are really fun people, easy to get along with, and sit in the front encouraging everyone to work but also have fun, relax, and enjoy our time here, which FLEW by.

Maggie Freleng

Maggie Freleng

Maggie is a multimedia journalist based in New York City focusing on mental health, social justice, women’s issues, gender and sexuality. She is a a former intern at NPR’s Latino USA and WHYY’s NewsWorks Tonight in Philadelphia.

She graduated with an M.A in Radio Broadcast and Health & Sciences from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in December 2015. At CUNY she was the producer Audio Files, a live hour-long radio show which aired on WHDD and WHCR.

Her work has been featured in NBC New York, NPR’S Latino USA, WHYY, Popular Science, Boston Globe, The Huffington Post, Women’s eNews and Voices of New York. She was the New York blog correspondent for Stop Street Harassment and was the production assistant at WAM! (Women, Action, and the Media).