Zachery Oakes

Zachery OakesRussell Springs Times Journal
Lindsey Wilson College

Many rewarding experiences come with working for one’s hometown newspaper. Small-town journalism plays a vital role in the community, and I would challenge anyone who does not believe that to spend a few weeks at a rural newspaper.

As a KPA intern at my hometown newspaper, The Russell County Times Journal/ News-Register, I’ve learned much more about my local community than I had before. I profiled the local Rescue Squad, covered the county fair, covered meetings of the Tourism Board, and various other stories. Through it all, I was able to go out into the community and learn more about several facets of my hometown that I previously did not know.

Journalism is a valuable piece of a small community. For many members of the community, it is one of the most important things in their life. I never would’ve truly realized how important local newspapers are to people if it was not for this internship.

Journalism is not about fame and fortune. It’s not about everyone seeing your name in the byline. Journalism is about bringing to light the stories of the seemingly ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things.

It’s also about educating the general public about what is going on within their local governments. I was able to witness this firsthand when controversy erupted about a proposed ordinance that would raise water rates for many of the citizens.

While I didn’t exclusively cover this story, I was able to discuss and observe another veteran reporter as he carefully examined the ongoing controversy. I watched him listen to the city council meetings several times to make sure that everything he had written was accurate and that both sides of the story were presented. While something like this would just be buried in the middle of a larger newspaper, this was a front-page story for us on more than one occasion because it was something that members of the community found very important.

I had a great experience with the Times Journal this summer. The staff at the Times Journal is one-of-a-kind, to say the least. They are a nearly perfect mix of personalities that really mesh well, and make going into work each day an enjoyable experience.

While I had a lot of experience with feature writing for my college newspaper, RaiderView, I was able to gain a lot of experience in hard news writing and some additional experience in feature writing during my internship. I have taken away several lessons from my time with the Times Journal that I believe have prepared me for the coming year as editor of my campus newspaper, and also a future career in journalism.

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