Alexis Gonzalez

Western Kentucky University
Tompkinsville News

As an Elizabethtown, Ky. native, I was unsure of what to expect from the small town that is Tompkinsville.  Interning at The Tompkinsville News offered not only an amazing hands-on experience at a weekly paper, but also a new taste of small-town living.

The Tompkinsville News may appear to be a simple weekly paper, but the impact and readership it maintains in Tompkinsville is astounding.  The paper lets the close knit community of Tompkinsville know about upcoming events, important news, and interesting people who are in their backyard.

This was my first experience at a weekly paper, but weekly doesn’t mean the operation ran slowly.  There was a constant flow of news to help fill the pages of the paper and advertisers leaping at the chance to have their ad run in the next special section.

My role this summer was one I wasn’t expecting, but one that I greatly enjoyed.  I thought they would have me do a few news stories here and there, but feature stories have been my focus for the past few weeks.  I was given a list of places, people and events when I first arrived, and I have slowly been tackling each story, one by one. 

The process has been incredible.  From flying in a small two-man plane to witnessing the building of a church in a week  — for a small town, there are countless big things going on.

Each story required engaging interviews that offered valuable experience.  After interviewing someone over the course of an hour, the interview becomes less about questions and answers and more about having a conversation.  The heart of a story often appears while engaged in conversation.

Being a smaller paper, I wasn’t limited to simply writing stories.  A few photos were usually captured while I was out doing interviews, and I also had the chance to help proof all aspects of the paper.  I view myself as a copy editor at heart, and the opportunity was one I relished and was happy to help with each week.  An extra set of eyes to help proof can only help to improve the paper before deadline.

With each new assignment and interview, I felt a sense of improvement and accomplishment.  Revisions are a must when writing stories, and the constructive criticism I received helped me to see the countless areas of improvement I had.

Even with the chance to cover a variety of interesting locals and events, at the heart of the experience was the sense of family offered at The Tompkinsville News.  A family-owned-and-operated business, I was welcomed with open arms that helped make working with them not only easy, but genuinely fun. 

The Tompkinsville News offered an unforgettable experience that not only provided an educational experience, but a life experience as well.  The friendly faces that I met, and the kindness I received will not be forgotten.  I hope that eventually time will take me back to the home I had in the summer of 2011 at the outstanding Tompkinsville News.

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