I’m not a stranger to the world of journalism. During my time at my school newspaper, The Eastern Progress, I had covered my fair share of stories. From arson and murder to election coverage and policy changes, I thought I had a firm grasp on the world of journalism. But little did I know there was a whole other side I had yet to explore.
When I received a call from the Citizen Voice & Times offering an internship, I was thrilled. My opportunity to get some real-world experience had finally arrived. But when I walked in on the first day, I had no idea what kind of things I would be covering. The internship threw me into a world I had never experienced before.
I covered various events throughout the community, such as Relay for Life, 4-H summer camp, and the library’s summer reading program. I had covered events before, but something made these different. I was not just reporting on these events, but I was becoming part of them. People in the town knew me and integrated me into their community.
During a 50-year high school reunion weekend I was covering, I had to go to a sock hop and take photos. At the event, a woman whose husband had passed away asked me to dance with her. So I went out on the dance floor and we danced like it was 1952. My publisher praised me for getting the newspaper’s name more involved in the community.
Both editors I worked with over the summer had also asked me to write a weekly column. And I was thrilled to get some of my opinionated pieces published. My second column was about a gay teenager who had committed suicide and the double standards society places on the homosexual community. And it was welcomed with a letter to the editor from a local church official in the town.
I had expected the people of a small town to not agree with my stance on the subject, but I did not expect to get a letter about it. I had written many controversial columns for The Progress. But never had I received a letter to the editor about them. And even though it was not an agreeable letter, it made me realize how much the community actually read and cared about what this newspaper published. But it still didn’t stop me from writing about controversial topics. If anything, it motivated me. And my last week at the internship, I got another one.
I learned a lot during the course of my internship. I learned how to take photographs (something I had never done before), worked on my design skills and greatly improved on my writing and reporting skills. But most importantly, I learned the importance of a community in the world of journalism. And that is a skill that couldn’t have been learned with my experiences at the Citizen Voice & Times.