Felecia Gray

Felicia GrayCampbellsville University

LaRue County Herald News

When I first applied for an internship through the Kentucky Press Association, I was not sure of what all it would entail. Obviously, I assumed that I would be writing, but even though I have been writing all my life and have taken journalism classes, it would’ve been wrong for me to call myself a journalist, because, frankly, I was not.During my internship, I did many things. I wrote many articles — according to our website I have written 50 to be exact — but I also did many other things, such as going out and taking photos (often spur of the moment), laying out pages with InDesign, gathering information, and making and taking phone calls — lots of phone calls.

Before taking this job I had only interviewed one person, and it was anything but professional, considering I had no idea what I was doing. So, that was something I had to get the hang of, so to speak. When I first started, I actually recorded a lot of my interviews to go along with my notes (I’m not a very fast writer), but I’ve gotten to the point where I can typically write fast enough and pick out the necessary and interesting information that I don’t need to record them anymore.

Another thing that was very new to me was forcing myself out of my own shell to ask people questions on the spur of the moment. Even though I am an extrovert, I am not at all assertive. So, it is really hard for me to walk up to a person I have never met and ask for their and if they mind if I take a photo of them for the newspaper. That may be the hardest thing for me — but I am slowly getting more comfortable with it.

As much as I like writing, I believe my favorite part of the internship has been the photojournalism aspect of the job — aside from the name-getting, of course.

I have always expressed an interest in photography, but until my sophomore year in college I had never done much. During my internship, however, I had the opportunity to take many photos and really enjoyed doing it. Even though it was hard for me to go up and ask for people’s names, it helped to see people’s reactions when they saw themselves or their children in the newspaper. They were often very excited.

When I first started the internship, I found the confused looks I received after introducing myself as “Felicia with The Herald News” a bit daunting. To this day, I’m not sure whether the confusion was because everyone in my town knows me by my mother (who works at the recycling center) or if it was because they thought Editor Linda Ireland was the only one who wrote at the paper. Either way, it typically took me aback.

However, the strangest thing started happening a couple weeks ago: people I had never met came up to me and told me they enjoyed my articles — which would not be so unusual if my articles were always accompanied by my picture, but they rarely are. So, how then, are these people recognizing me? I am still not sure, but the point is they recognized me and I was the one with the confused look, which was a nice change of pace.

Most people I have talked to have said that newspapers are a dying business. I surely hope that is not true. Either way, I have a newfound respect for newspapers (especially the small ones) for working as hard as they do to adapt to the technology that is changing businesses everywhere.

Before I came here, I will admit, I was a bit cynical and bought into the idea that people don’t read newspapers anymore, but my time here has changed my mind. Admittedly, newspapers do not have the impact they once had — before Internet, before TV, before radio – but they still have a huge place in the community.

After all, there are very few things that make people as happy as seeing their children’s photos in the newspaper. Sure, it is nice when they are on the radio and the television, but there is something to be said about having tangible evidence of their child’s accomplishments (or, let’s face it, cuteness)—something they can frame, or stick on the refrigerator.

What do the proud owners of new businesses display on their walls or in showcases? That article the local paper ran welcoming them to the neighborhood. What do veterans put in shadowboxes alongside their medals? The clipping of that story someone cared enough to write about their lives and their experiences.

Newspapers aren’t just part of the community, they represent the community. Sadly, not all news is good news, and many headlining front page articles aren’t. But if newspapers only published those articles that are scandalous, they would not be representing the entire community, only pointing out its flaws.

People may buy newspapers for the scandals (or coupons), but that isn’t the part that keeps them coming. People commit to and read their local newspapers for the farm page, the school page, that special section that highlights the county fair, the engagements, that picture of their little boy teeing off in the Sports section. These are the reasons people love the paper, and these are the reasons that Facebook (or Heaven forbid, Topix) will never replace the local paper.

Reflecting on my experience overall, I learned a lot from this internship and I am very grateful to the Kentucky Press Association and The LaRue County Herald News for giving me the opportunity for the internship. Not only has it been a major help for my resume, but it has, like I said before, helped get me out of my shell and assert myself more. I also dare say that my writing and photography has improved. You know what they say about practice.

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