JR Site: Al Jazeera English in Qatar
What was your favorite thing about your time on Journalism Residency?
Working side-by-side and with such a talented team of multimedia journalists. But even more so, the diversity of the newsroom. I worked directly with producers and documentarians from Great Britain, Australia, the U.S., Canada, India, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and France. The difference in perspective among the staff shines in the production value and content of the newscasts and programmes.
What was the most unexpected thing you did while on JR?
In my last seven weeks, I ended up producing a documentary with an editor. My boss in the Programmes Department threw me in the deep end and put me in charge of re-versioning a commissioned film from Arabic to English . By the time I left Qatar, I re-scripted, added new scenes, enhanced the music and helped develop an introductory slideshow for that same feature length film. It aired globally in April and is now available on Al Jazeera English's YouTube channel.
How did people at your JR site treat you during your time there?
From day one, AJE's staff treated me with respect and as a peer. I made friends with a number of my colleagues and on several occasions went out to dinner with them. An age or experience barrier didn't exist. Six weeks into my Residency my friends/colleagues, who were mostly in their upper 20s and lower 30s, were surprised to find out that I still hadn't received my undergraduate degree. That's a testament to the quality of the people who work there. The quality of work you produce is the only barometer for respect.
What were some of your job responsibilities?
The first four weeks I sat on the planning desk. I researched and commissioned global series to air, voiced translations in packages, clipped packages with editors and pitched various story ideas. I then moved to Programmes where I assistant produced a documentary, as well as produced a documentary. I also spent a minimal amount of time on the news desk where I communicated with correspondents on-site and prepped them for their live shots.
How has JR prepared you for life after Medill?
My time at Al Jazeera English, thanks to the Journalism Residency program, has given me the confidence that I needed. I now know that I am capable of working and excelling at an international news network. Without the support from Medill's administration and the JR program that would've never been possible.
What is one piece of advice you would give to future JR students?
Constantly research and pitch stories. By demonstrating that you are knowledgeable about the station's or publication's market, you will gain the confidence of your colleagues. Even if you are assigned to a specific project or task that doesn't involve research or pitching, continue to research and pitch stories. Always do more than what you are asked. Quality hard work is always rewarded.
Sample of Cabrera's work:
- The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue