I first discovered The Indy during the summer of 202. A friend from my university was writing pieces on the Roe v. Wade rally at Washington Square Park and going undercover at crisis pregnancy centers. I was inspired by the work she was doing — hitting the streets and reporting, speaking truth to power. I was also intrigued by what I learned about The Indy, a people-centered publication that sought to highlight the perspectives of organizers, activists and everyday citizens.
I was working a remote desk internship that summer, and yearning for something that would bring me out into the streets, allow me to meet and speak with different people, and write articles sharing their stories. So this past summer, I too joined The Indy. I wanted to be involved in independent, grassroots journalism.
The Indy’s editors, John Tarleton and Amba Guerguerian, were extremely open and receptive to my journalism interests and passions. Upon arriving, I told them I wanted to do human interest stories and, within my very first week, they had me working on two pieces. One was about New York City’s canners, the other about subway buskers. Just barely after arriving in the city, I was already out on subway platforms conversing with buskers or wandering through two-story high towers of recycled bottles speaking to canners.
Though canners are a familiar sight throughout the city, their stories are often unremarked. I visited redemption centers in Brooklyn — including Sure We Can, the only nonprofit redemption center in the city — and spoke to canners. I learned about various reasons why canners choose their line of work, the tips and strategies they’ve learned along the way, the stigma they combat, and their struggle to raise the price of the five-cent bottle deposit, which hasn’t budged since 1983.
It was an incredible opportunity to be able to share the stories of the hardworking artists that perform underground in the MTA. Many of the buskers I spoke to had been performing for over a decade; they shared memories of the most memorable audience reactions they’d ever received, the strangest tips they’d gotten (a banana or an ounce of solid gold), and their experiences playing during the Great Recession.
I was able to write on specific topics that I am passionate about. I told John and Amba that I was curious about abolition. For my first spot piece, they asked me to cover a New York City Stop Cop City protest against at an Atlanta Police Department recruiting event in Manhattan. I spoke with organizers and attendees about their draw to the issue.
I had the opportunity, too, to pitch and write my own story. I highlighted the work of two non-profit organizations based in Brooklyn — Elite Learners and Man Up! — that are putting abolitionist principles into practice, such as curtailing the presence of a police force in their neighborhoods, using violence-prevention methods, leading after-school enrichment programs, and providing employment for formerly incarcerated individuals.
Throughout the internship, I felt I’d grown as a reporter; my interviewing, writing and research skills have improved. I spoke to so many different people this summer. In interviewing them and writing their stories, I acquired knowledge of the struggles and hopes of workers and activists all across the city. I had room to work independently; at the same time, I feel my editors John and Amba were able to provide me with lots of support, whether that meant sending me articles or readings that might be of interest, providing me with briefings on the subject matter, or even just arranging a quick check-in call. It was a good balance, and a productive way for me to improve as a journalist this summer.
Local journalism matters, especially free local journalism. What I admire about The Indy is its commitment to providing high-quality, free journalism that informs its readers. For anyone considering an internship with The Indy, I highly recommend it; it’s a valuable opportunity with an independent paper to get out there on the streets and cover the stories that matter.