A series of recent videos on YouTube about local people and places has raised Northern Illinois University senior Lindsey Diehl’s visibility in the local and NIU communities.
“It’s shocking to me that a lot of my peers at NIU don’t really know what’s out there in Sycamore and in Malta and in Kingston,” the Sycamore native said. “They don’t get to travel out to those areas and see what’s offered out there.”
The six videos Diehl produced in her “Inside the 815” series was her honors capstone project at NIU. The videos are about a local author, a haunted hotel tour, a popcorn stand, an orchard, a you-pick berry orchard, and a fashion entrepreneur. They can be found on YouTube by searching for “Inside the 815.”
Diehl has spent the last two summers working as an intern at television newsrooms in Chicago. She plans to graduate from NIU in December with a degree in journalism. From there, she said, she will go wherever journalism takes her.
Diehl met with Midweek reporter Curtis Clegg to discuss her passion for telling stories and her future plans.
MidWeek: When did you decide to pursue a career in journalism?
Lindsey Diehl: That is an interesting question. I was previously at an out-of-state college as an education major. I thought that was more my route because my mom was in education. I pursued that my first year and I realized that wasn’t for me. So when I came back to Northern I saw what they had in the journalism program and that gave me the confidence to pursue it.
MW: Did you work on the high school yearbook?
LD: I did work on the yearbook staff, so I had a little bit of experience with layout and design, but it was the TV route, which I didn’t have any background in, that I decided to pursue.
MW: Tell me about your internship.
LD: I have had two internships in the Chicago market. The first was with WLS (television) last summer and fall, where I worked under reporter Karen Meyer as a disability news intern. Karen Meyer is one of a kind, and I absolutely loved working under her. She is deaf herself, so that experience was one of a kind. The stories we covered were amazing. From there, I was selected to be one of the Illinois Broadcasters Association Multicultural Internship Program participants, and they were able to place me with NBC in Chicago this past summer. I worked on the health unit with Nesita Kwan and her producer, Bob Ray. It was such a busy and wonderful experience. It was every day Monday through Friday and I commuted from here. I loved it and I miss it every day.
MW: How did you land the first internship?
LD: I sent my resume in and I didn’t think I had a chance, but when I got that call back it was like, “Oh my gosh. This is my dream.”
MW: Were you familiar with those reporters?
LD: Oh certainly. I love watching the Chicago market news. That’s what I grew up watching.
MW: Is broadcast journalism your primary focus?
LD: Yes, definitely. I did work at the Northern Star for a semester and I loved that opportunity, but I just love telling stories with visuals and I think that’s what grabs me personally. I love that editing process and I love shooting my own stories.
MW: Do you have a beat that you prefer?
LD: This semester has taught me that I really love covering the feature-y, entertainment, shopping, dining stories. I didn’t think that was going to be my calling at first, but I have really enjoyed it and I really loved showing peoples’ emotions through those kinds of stories. It’s a totally different type of reporting and it’s way more personal.
MW: How did the “Inside the 815” YouTube series get started?
LD: “Inside the 815” was started by my predecessors. My friend Lauren Scott, who graduated last semester, was the “Inside the 815” reporter. She preferred it to be its own show, so she made it like a 12-minute episode. However, when I took it over, I decided I wanted it to be a segment of the newscast, so I condensed it down to two minutes and make it about one topic and take the newsier route with it.
MW: Do you have more stories planned before you graduate?
LD: I was doing it as an honors program requirement since I’m in my last semester. It’s my honors capstone project, which is basically like an independent study, and my total requirement was six packages. So I have reached that requirement; however, if I get time later in the semester to squeeze in a few more, I would love to.
MW: What are your plans for after you graduate?
LD: I am starting to hit that point now where I’m starting to look. It has been a little difficult for me because for your demo reel you’re supposed to gather your best work, but with my producing work, the best of it will come out at the end of this semester. I’m in the zone where I would love to go wherever work takes me. I’m not set on staying here and I’m not set on one particular area, so I’m really going to take a look across the board. It’s going to be hard but I’m really excited.
MW: Do you want to work in a small, medium, or large media market?
LD: I kind of expect that, if I’m lucky enough, I will be placed with a smaller market just to gain experience but I would love to end up in the Chicago market one day. I think that’s where my heart really is. It’s so exciting. There is always something to report on. ...Whether that be on-camera or off-camera, I haven’t really made up my mind yet. I love both.