Gina Clear

Teacher, North Hardin High School
Elizabethtown News Enterprise 

I had never thought working at a newspaper was an option for a high school journalism teacher. But when Ben Sheroan, editor at The News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown, approached me about one, I thought, “Why not? It makes perfect sense. What better way is there to learn the trade and be better able to teach it, than to immerse myself in it?”

So I gladly accepted and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. The internship couldn’t have come for a better time for me. After teaching journalism for 13 years at North Hardin High School, I was becoming a little burnt out and was longing for a change of pace. This internship provided much needed relief and some affirmation that what I am teaching is how it is really done.

I have always taught it is not the event that matters; it is the people who made up the event and their stories that capture an audience. That couldn’t be truer than at local daily paper. I got to put that theory in to practice and I found out people read my stories because I went out of my way to interview a variety of people involved in the event to tell a more complete story. That my stories didn’t just include facts about the events, but how people felt about it. Not a week went by that I didn’t receive a call from someone who had read one of my articles and they wanted to compliment me or share a similar experience. It was very gratifying.

It was exhilarating to cover so many stories and meet so many interesting and wonderful people. It was nerve wracking to be trusted to take pictures at events that were a one-time shot, like a Brigadier General’s promotion ceremony on Fort Knox, the Miss Hardin County Fair Pageant, or at several appearances by state government candidates campaigning in the area. My coverage (photos and stories) was featured several times on the front page and there’s nothing more invigorating than seeing your name in print, regardless of where it appears. It is something to take pride in. I was even fortunate enough to have a photo picked up by the Associated Press and run in USA Today. I was elated. I couldn’t wait to share the news with my family, but had to keep my cool at the office.

Now as I near the completion of my internship (sounds kind of funny when you apply the term “intern” to a 35 year old woman), I can never thank the staff of The News-Enterprise enough. They welcomed me as a member of their team immediately and celebrated my birthday with me. The photo staff took the time to show me how to properly tone my photos, because I knew just enough to be dangerous before they got a hold of me. The copy staff never told me they were tired of my style questions. And no one ever told me how annoying I was when I asked 50 questions about “Why do you do it this way?” and “How do I do this?” The staff was always so helpful and willing to satisfy my need to learn.

While I asked and got answers, I was always thinking, “How can this help my newspaper or yearbook staff?” or even “How can this help my instruction?” What I’ve learned from the practical, “real world” experience gained from The News-Enterprise is going to alter and improve many facets of my teaching from the way I organize my publication staffs to how we tone photos. But what I can never thank the staff at The News-Enterprise enough for was the rejuvenation I got from the experience. 

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