Spencer Jenkins

Western Kentucky University
Shelbyville Sentinel News

Even though I have dreams of writing for major magazines like GQ and Men’s Health, it doesn’t mean I don’t love the quirks and perks of writing for a community newspaper.

As a senior at WKU, I am concluding my third internship, which has been the 10-week KPA program at The Sentinel-News in Shelbyville. Before this I was a photo intern at the Louisville Eccentric Observer after my freshman year of college and as an editorial intern after my sophomore year at the Dalles Chronicle in The Dalles, Ore. where I got my first spoonful of community journalism, considering the town had a population of about 14,000 people.

At the end of my junior year of college I was debating whether or not to even apply for an internship, but my college advisers really pushed me to apply for a KPA internship because they are paid and they are good experience.

I landed in The Sentinel-News newsroom at the end of May after much consideration of what to do.

Like many interns, I was unsure at the beginning, wondering if I was even going to enjoy my internship or even make it the full 10 weeks, but as the days went on and the assignments became more and more interesting, the more I began to love it.

I also believe that it is an unwritten rule that ALL interns must cover the county fair, but I managed to avoid that until this internship. In the end, I really enjoyed covering the fair because my editor directed me into different angles. Rather than just covering ring toss and cotton candy, I took the angle of the business and lifestyle of carnival people, which is one of my favorite pieces I’ve written to date.

Before this internship, I had no interest in business-like articles because I honestly found them boring and frankly, I was scared I would get factual information in them wrong — I’m not the business savvy type.

Once my editor assigned me business articles I wasn’t going to refuse them so I took them with a gulp and tried my hardest to produce the best article possible.

Out of the three internships I have worked, I have been challenged most here because I have been taken out of my comfort zone many times, mentally and physically.

I say physically because the Sentinel-News in Shelbyville is located in the Saddlebred horse capital of the nation meaning the intern write multiple stories about horses throughout the summer, including the Shelby County Fair Horse Show and the Shelbyville Horse Show — there’s just one problem, I’m extremely allergic to horses.

I kept this bit of information secret during the interview process because I knew I could take my allergy meds and be fine. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous every horse story.

I also went head to head with the county sheriff over what I think was the most controversial issue in Shelby County — the shooting death of a family pet by a sheriff’s deputy. Week after week I wrote articles about this from every angle possible. After this internship is over, I don’t think I’ll be intimidated by any source again after dealing with the Sheriff’s office all summer.

The staff here has mentored me this summer and helped mold me into a better journalist and I will always be able to thank them for that. 

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