I was once told I could be anything I wanted to be. My journalism adviser, in class and for the campus paper, said nobody believed in this anymore. Well, he was wrong; I do.
From a young age, I forged a relationship with words and knew I couldn’t be happy unless I pursued a career challenging me to explore this art and get paid for doing so. Today, I find myself a semester away from graduation at Morehead State University, editor of the campus paper The Trail Blazer and now in my second internship of the summer (the first being a five-week, unpaid internship at a foreign policy paper in Canada, Embassy News Weekly; the second a KPA internship with my local community paper, The Morehead News, and Carter County’s Grayson Journal Enquirer).
I’ve tackled the basics of journalism and reporting while in my different editorial positions with The Trail Blazer, but this summer has tested me by revealing the different facets of publications. Going from a weekly college paper to an international weekly to community news has revealed three very important types of reporting.
At The Morehead News and Grayson Journal Enquirer, I realized the far-reaching consequences of every story written. At an international, there’s a type of understanding between you and your subject that they are being scrutinized and we will show them for who they are, good or bad. In a small community, our subject doesn’t understand this. Being from a small town in eastern Kentucky (Pikeville), I thought I already knew what community news was about. I had a lot to learn.
While here, I have been exposed to a patient staff who likes to slice and dice my wordy features (I like to make it long so they can tailor it to their liking) and offer constructive criticism with each piece. My publisher, Keith Kappes, tells me like it is about whatever it is, which is one of the best things a mentor can do.
In Morehead, I saw a brighter, more tame type of community reporting. When I went to Grayson, I was exposed to trials, the court system, fires and historical features. The plot on my journey to explore the difference between the three types of journalism thickened as I gained deeper perspective into the multiple branches of community news. It seems every community will have a different feel to its reporting—something I did not expect.
With less than six months until I am fully thrust into the workforce, I have started my job search. This summer’s experiences, both through the KPA and abroad, further fueled my passion for journalism. I understand that before you can “get out” into well-known papers, you have to stumble around and wise-up with community news. I can confidently say that I’m OK with that; before my internship, I wasn’t. Now I realize how important community news is and how valuable the experiences can be in a journalist’s own self-refinement.
My Canadian experience forced me to start my KPA internship late, so my journey with community news is not over. But I feel I’m hitting my stride in this realm of news and will continue to develop a new appreciation as each day is a new adventure. I’ve gotten lost on the hidden Rowan County back-roads, sat behind a murder suspect in a bond hearing, been up to my knees in manure at a county fair livestock competition and briefly locked in a bakery’s freezer because the owner I was interviewing knew my brother-in-law and thought it was funny.
I’m loving every minute of it and can’t wait for the adventures awaiting me.