Tewksbury's Spinelli To Be Part Of NBC Team Covering The Academy Awards
Feb 27, 2016 03:53PM
By Bill Gilman
Tewksbury's Courtney Spinelli has gained valuable experience in broadcast journalism as an intern for FOX25 and NBC News.
On Sunday, everyone who is anyone in the entertainment industry will descend upon the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles for the 88th Academy Awards.
Among those in attendance, right in the thick of the action, will be Tewksbury native Courtney Spinelli.
A senior at Worcester State University, majoring in communications/broadcasting, Spinelli is working this semester as an intern for NBC Nightly News. She will be part of the network’s production team setting up for coverage of the Red Carpet before the ceremony and then move to the press room backstage to be part of the team covering the winners, as they are interviewed after receiving their awards.
“I’d been told that if I was approved for press credentials that I might be able to tag along and help with the coverage. But I didn’t want to get my hopes up,” said Spinelli, who graduated from Tewksbury High in 2012. “It’s very exciting. I’ll be tagging along with my producer, helping her with whatever she needs.”
For the 21-year-old Spinelli, it’s just the latest chapter in what has been a whirlwind two years of
hands-on training in the field she hopes to build a career in.
In the Summer of 2014, Spinelli interned with Fox25 News in Boston. She was hired for the same internship in the Summer of 2015. Much of her responsibilities centered around research for stories. She also and the chance to get experience in the field and even practice her anchor desk skills.
For a young woman with dreams of a career in news, it was the perfect chance to get her feet wet.
“I’ve known this was what I wanted to do since I was five years old,” said Spinelli. “Specifically investigative reporting. But I’ve also developed an interest in politics."
During that time, she had the opportunity to be mentored by former FOX anchor Maria Stephanos. The pair has maintained a friendship ever since.
When her internship with FOX25 came to an end in August, Spinelli had little time to relax. She had already landed an internship for the Fall Semester with NBC in New York City. Specifically, she was assigned to work for the Meredith Viera Show.
While it wasn’t news/reporting oriented, it gave Spinelli experience in a fast-paced environment for a show that taped two live-audience episodes a day.
Living in New York was a bit of a culture shock for the girl from the suburbs. But it left a lasting
“I think New York is a place that you either love it or you hate it,” she said. “And I really loved it. I went from having a car and driving everywhere to having to learn the subway system in just a few days so I could get anywhere I needed to go.”
Spinelli’s NYC internship ended in December. With just one semester to go before her graduation, she could have returned to Massachusetts and coasted.
But that’s not the type of person Spinelli is. Craving more experience and new challenges, she applied for and was hired for the internship with the West Coast Division of NBC Nightly News, based in Los Angeles.
“It was a very long interview process, probably the toughest interview I’ve ever done in my life,” said Spinelli.
It was an interview process that was delayed by several days by the biggest terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11.
“The day my interview was scheduled for was the day the San Bernadino shootings took place,” she said.
Working with the NBC News team, Spinelli has been like a kid in a candy store. She’s been learning the business from every angle and has gained valuable experience each day. Her responsibilities have ranged from story research to transcribing footage, as well as pulling video clips and sound bytes for stories being aired.
“They’re really good about giving us (meaningful) responsibilities,” she said. “They don’t treat us like interns. They realize we have expertise to offer.
“It’s exciting. One day we’re covering an escaped prisoner from the Orange County Jail, the next day we’re working on the Oregon standoff and the next we’re going to the biggest award shows of the year.”
Spinelli has worked on coverage prep for the SAG Awards, the Grammys and the Pope’s recent visit to Juarez, Mexico.
But Sunday night, participating in on-site coverage of the Academy Awards will definitely be a highlight of her young career.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I get to dress up for the show, so that’s something new. It’s exciting,” she said.
Spinelli credits her parents for their strong support of her career goals and for helping her move all over the country.
“They’ve been great. They’ve been so supportive of everything I’ve done,” she said.