Morehead State University
Kentucky New Era
I learned a lot about the newspaper industry by working at the Kentucky New Era. The New Era has been publishing daily issues in Hopkinsville for over a century and is still considered the most reputable news source in the area. The environment in the newsroom was always fairly frantic; there were reporters running in and out of the door and a constant chatter from the police scanner. As an afternoon paper the mornings are the busiest time when everyone was finishing copy, editing and designing pages.
On a typical day I arrived at the Hopkinsville Police Station at 7:30 a.m. to go through the crime and accident reports. After I had made copies of the ones that I thought were newsworthy I went to the Sheriff’s Department and did the same thing before finally getting to work at about 8 a.m. I would then immediate start condensing the reports into briefs, often requiring me to contact the police department for more details or the hospital for accident reports involving injuries. When I was finished with crime and accident reports there was normally a small stack of press releases and event notices that the Editor would want me to write into briefs.
Often I would have written an article the day before for this edition of the paper and would have already loaded into the editorial software that allows the entire news staff to see and edit the copy. So many times while I was writing briefs and going over press releases and reports one of the editors or one of the other reporters would be asking me to clarify information in my article or otherwise asking editing related questions.
After all of the writing and editing was done the page designers would finish putting everything on the page and print out proof sheets and all of the editors and reporters would read over the front page and the local/state page for errors. Once that was done the paper went to the press and we all went to lunch. On Mondays the Editor and all of the staff writers would go out to lunch and build a tentative budget for the week.
After lunch the newsroom was completely different. All of the reporters were on the phone doing interviews or taking off to go cover something and then coming back to start writing it up. This is when I would conduct interviews either over the phone or in offices and work on projects that I was involved with. One afternoon, for example, I wrote 20 open records requests and then left to drop them each off in person. I was out of the office for nearly 4 hours that day.
As far as skills I acquired working for the New Era, my reporting abilities have expanded dramatically. Just the sheer amount of reporting that I had to do made my interviewing and shorthand writing abilities grow. My writing improved a lot as well. I ran into a lot of situations where I had to use AP style that I learned in class but had not actually used in an article before. Also my Editor was very strict on AP style and grammar rules and would not hesitate to call me out on mistakes in the newsrooms in the mornings.
The most beneficial thing about this internship for me was that I was treated like a reporter from day one. I had copy in the paper on my very first day and by the next Monday I had written 4 articles. They expected a lot from me and that made me do more than I would have if they just left me to do whatever.
I wrote a wide variety of articles during my time at the New Era. I covered the return of the 101st Airborne Division from Afghanistan, the local Relay for Life and a feature on the financial troubles of the Salvation Army in the area, along with many others. In total I wrote over 30 articles. My favorite article of the internship was a feature I wrote about Chaz Allen, who was a staff sergeant who was injured by an IED and was not able to return with the rest of his unit.
Overall it was a great journalistic experience and I think I learned a lot.