Jacob Parker

JacobParkerWestern Kentucky University
The Dawson Springs Progress

Upon first learning that I had been accepted as an intern at The Dawson Springs Progress, I was a little apprehensive. The town is located about twenty minutes from my own hometown, Madisonville, and I assumed that Dawson Springs wouldn’t be much different. Not to say that I had low expectations by any means, but I could only imagine what would be said about the half-inch holes in my ears here in rural Kentucky. I very much felt like Ren McCormack when moving to Bomont, but I didn’t feel that my poor dancing skills were going to get me anywhere.

Turns out, I was wrong. It was one of those rare instances where I was tasked with eating my words and, if you took the time to speak with my girlfriend, I’m sure she’d readily admit that, for me, this is no easy feat. The people in this town have been astoundingly friendly, overly accepting and unbelievably community focused. Within the first week of my internship, I felt very much at home here in Dawson Springs.

I began my very first internship in my chosen field, occasionally rifling through the AP Style Book to make sure I got something right. I began to become a part of a real community, similar to Mayberry, where you can smell the aroma of Aunt Bee’s apple pies floating through the window. I began to learn how a real newspaper worked and, put simply, I loved it.

I was able to cover the opening of a new business that featured canoes and kayaks down a river, and as a by product made that wobbly step into my first canoe ride. I’ve found out that it’s pretty difficult to grow blueberries correctly after writing a feature on a blueberry farmer. I’ve also learned that everything said in a meeting is important, and that I should probably flex my fingers before attempting to take notes.

In all seriousness, this internship has enhanced my abilities and morale. My Lou Grant-esque (and I mean that in a good way) editor, Scott, has been able to teach me things from designing a newspaper page, to editing photographs for print, to deciding what issues are newsworthy. My co-worker Carolyn, the conscience of our newsroom, has helped immensely with my grammar and sentence formatting; and when it comes to writing something controversial, it is Carolyn who never fails to find the right word. Miss Faye, my co-worker who would give Betty White a run for her money, has taught me the art of headlines. For me, a person who consistently has too many words flying out of his mouth, shortening a story into about six words has always been a real challenge. These three wonderful people have been unfailingly patient in showing me the ropes of a truly fascinating business.

Working at a real newspaper has definitely reinforced my wish to become a journalist. It’s a little different than I thought it would be, seeing as Scott sails an impressively organized ship. Work is a low-stress environment here at the Progress, and things very rarely go anything other than smoothly. I couldn’t imagine a better internship for my beginning as a journalist, or a better place to learn about what every journalist is in the field for: the people.

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