Ivy Brashear
Eastern Kentucky University
Corbin Times Tribune

On my first day as the new summer intern for the Times-Tribune in Corbin, I walked into the office and was directed to Editor, Samantha Swindler’s office. She greeted me, introduced me to everyone on the editorial staff, which consisted of three people: the Community Editor, Bobbie Poynter, and two staff writers, Carl Keith Greene and Sean Bailey. I got to see the basement of the building, where the old printing press used to be. The room sits empty now, with ink blobs on the floor and the smell of machinery still in the air.

Swindler showed me my desk, gave me some papers to sign and told me to sit tight. She was telling me more information about the office and the paper, when the scanner beeped. There had been a massive tractor-trailer wreck on I-75 with one fatality. Swindler looked at me and asked, “Wanna go?” I could feel the adrenaline start to pump and we headed to the wreck, where I got to be the reporter, videographer and photographer on scene. After that, I felt like I could really get into this job.

That first week, I ended up covering that wreck and then found myself in the county jail interviewing an inmate who threatened to kill 500 of his students on the last day of school. From there, I’ve covered everything from local charities sending aid to flood victims in south eastern Kentucky, to a Laurel County Deputy shooting and killing a man, to a little old lady who has hand-quilted over one hundred quilts within the last 20 years. I have shot video and taken pictures. I’ve made contacts within local government and organizations. I’ve met people that I’ve interviewed and found them to be people just like me – not just a story (my college ethics professor would be proud). I’ve used what I learned at Eastern, but I’ve also added experience to that knowledge, which is almost more important. I can honestly say that I feel infinitely more prepared to join the journalism world now that I’ve experienced a summer in Corbin at the Times.

I have learned probably more than I realize while working here – things, I’m sure can only be learned through experience at a community newspaper. I have learned that you make all your phone calls in the morning, and just hope that someone – at least one contact – calls you back in the afternoon. If you make the county sheriff’s office mad, they will not help you with any other story involving them after that, even if it’s about how they arrested 40 people in a child pornography ring (that didn’t actually happen, but I thought it would make my point clear). Politics in Corbin/Williamsburg/Barbourville, and the counties where those cities are, are oftentimes more racy, corrupt and tawdry than anything that could possibly happen in D.C. – not an exaggeration. Reporters, editors, publishers, and everyone in between, at a community newspaper are some of the hardest working individuals I have ever had the pleasure to know. It takes every last person at this paper to make it run every day, and that’s not an exaggeration either. This is some of the hardest work I’ve ever done, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Working here, I’ve seen and felt the rhythm of a community newspaper. There is a cycle to things here. Reports are hired, and reporters leave. Breaking news comes in waves – one week, there will be floods, murder, grand jury trials and wrecks on I-75. The next week, you will be trying to pull a story together McGuiver-style, with a tiny piece of gossip and some duct tape. People take vacations, and everyone else, including stringers who aren’t actual staff, has to pick up the slack. Comics are God, and the editor’s weekly columns are the topic of heated debate for months after publication.

I can’t say with certainty that I will pursue a career at a newspaper, but if I did, it would be at a community newspaper. I couldn’t see myself at anything bigger than that. I’ve seen the slow decline of print journalism firsthand while working at the Times, and the way the budget controls the size of the full-time staff. However, I have seen hard workers that are dedicated to the craft of journalism. That makes me hopeful for this over-discussed “future of journalism.” I see it as bright and full of spunk, I see getting to that future as a rocky-road; but the main thing is: I see it. Working here has taught me that journalism isn’t going anywhere – especially when the scanner won’t stop beeping and little old ladies keep making their quilts.