As a soon-to-be-graduated senior at Western Kentucky University, I’m preparing for that final upstream push from the collegiate tributary to the broader waters of professional life. With this allegory in mind, it’s only appropriate that I spent my summer in Paducah, a city in Western Kentucky located at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers.
Having spent four years at WKU in Bowling Green, I thought I knew Western Kentucky. Shortly after arriving in Paducah, it became clear that this city is a different breed of Bluegrass.
Sure, there are your Kentucky constants like UK’s Big Blue disciples and the occasional black splotch of itinerant beef cattle, but Paducah has a culinary and historic milieu unlike anywhere else in the state.
Paducah’s art district is blossoming, the barbecue is transcendent, and the historic riverfront whispers secrets about Civil War folklore, floods, and traveling blues legends.
These cultural revelations amplified my excitement as a summer intern for Kentucky Publishing Incorporated, a newspaper group in Paducah. My prior experience in journalism was general assignment reporting for the College Heights Herald, WKU’s student-run newspaper. At the Herald, I was responsible for producing content twice a week, with coverage limited primarily to campus activities.
The editorial style of a newspaper group was uncharted territory for me. Kentucky Publishing owns 15 newspapers, with coverage spanning Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois. My coverage was relegated primarily to the greater Paducah area, but I had to produce content each day for KPI’s myriad publications—a challenging, but exciting prospect.
The expansive coverage demands, in turn, afforded me freedoms that were previously unprecedented in my short reporting career. Not only did I cover stories such as civil suits, legendary barbecue joints, and the iconic Fancy Farm political picnic, but I was able to photograph events as well—my second love to next to writing.
My time in Paducah was an enlightening experience. Thanks to this internship at Kentucky Publishing, my former doubts about the professional world have been whisked away somewhere up the Ohio River.