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Nov 10 / Christine Illichmann

Student Allie Penn interns at CNN

SIS Student Allie Penn is currently an Editorial Research Intern for CNN in Atlanta, where she’ll be working until early December. We caught up with Allie and asked her for details on her work at CNN.

What are some of your typical day to day tasks there? 

A typical day starts with me working the reference desk with my supervisor Lindsey. The sort of reference work we do is usually any information relating to a particular story. CNN’s library is in-house only. Only in certain cases would you be able to make a reference request from outside the company. Some of the requests are more in-depth and some are simply quick contact requests. I’ve looked up court documents, statistics, other stories relating to a potential CNN story, and information regarding different individuals CNN would like to interview. From there I usually work on different projects that I am assigned. Most of them are updating statistics that CNN uses to write stories. A large part of what I do is work with what they call “Fast Facts,” which are just quick bios or timelines of different individuals and events. This helps when news stories break or individuals pass away. Depending on what is going on in the news cycle that day, it can be very busy or it can be quiet, but it never stays quiet for long.

Are you working on any fun projects you can share with the SIS community? 

I’ve gotten to work on a couple of cool projects while working at CNN. I think what is often more rewarding is when something you have worked on becomes part of the news. I have been able to do research contributing stories to Hurricane Maria, Irma, and Harvey. Additionally, I’ve completed research for stories focused on the tragedies that have occurred lately, such as the Las Vegas and New York attacks. I was also able to do some of the research on the Kevin Spacey allegations. This story in particular I, and the other librarians, completed lots of research for:

Is there anything that you’ve found new or surprising about the type of librarianship you’re involved in there? 

I think being a part of CNN is a great opportunity. They really operate on their own systems and a lot of their own rules. Using a unique in-house reference system allows me to develop my reference skills. These types of skills will be transferable to any future librarian or archivist position I have. Good reference skills are key in our line of work. Additionally, I love how quickly everything moves. You always have to be on the ball and quick to adapt. It can get pretty hectic quickly, the faster you move the better, but efficiency is key.

I am able to work in various areas and connect with the different librarians and archivists. CNN has its own methods of digitizing, selection, cataloging and indexing, and reference work, both for its video collections and for breaking news stories. It is great to be a part of something so relevant and important in today’s world as CNN.