My experience at the Murray Ledger & Times this summer changed my view on journalism, my experience in the field and the relationships I have with my community for the long term. I chose to stick with a newspaper within my college town, removing the particulars of so many others’ internship experiences from my own. I did not have to contend with a new environment, people and even co-workers to some extent, but what I learned was invaluable.
I left the newsroom this summer with a new passion for the role community journalism plays in the changing newspaper environment. No longer can a small-town paper rely on copy that was written by and for people so very far away mentally and physically. For that reason, my editor plastered a sign on the wall early on that read, “KEEP IT LOCAL,” and that is exactly what I did. In journalism school, it seems, dreams of big-business newspapers full of investigative reports and hard-nosed journalists is the elite life for a young student, and, admittedly, my list of job possibilities never included a daily newspaper in Murray, Ky. But today, I dream a much different dream. It’s certainly no larger than The New York Times, but it appeals to me in a much larger way. My experiences at the Ledger taught me that the impact of my reporting drove much deeper than anything I could yearn to produce at a larger newspaper.
Because the semblance of that small newspaper that hits the racks and mailboxes of nearly everyone in Murray is so totally different than the classy productions of New York and Washington, D.C. When Murray voted to expand alcohol licensing, so many locals waited eagerly Wednesday morning to read the results. Or when the county judge-executive initiated a burn ban only days before the Fourth of July, the news was featured almost solely within the pages of the good ol’ Ledger.
Indeed, I have become a fanatic for community journalism. I’m bumper-sticker crazy about what does and doesn’t go within the pages of my community paper, and I don’t anticipate ever going back to my sense of apathy for the community’s news.
I will always remember the week that I covered a local fire almost every day. I’ll never forget the people and places I visited and covered, and my deep appreciation can only be extended to the Kentucky Press Association for giving me the opportunity and the entire staff at the Murray ledger & Times for taking their precious time to show me the ropes. I respect the work that Publisher Alice Rouse and Editor Greg Travis do every day, and I am forever grateful for having had the opportunity to contribute.