Published by Kentucky Press Association/Kentucky Press Service

  August 2006
Volume 77, Number 8  


Each year, the Kentucky Press Association teams up with universities across the commonwealth to give students a taste of the world of journalism and newspapers. Here are some thoughts from this yearís crop of interns on their experiences in the field:


Adam Gibson
Times-Journal

Iíve had a great experience working for my editor, Greg Wells, at the Times-Journal in Russell County. Practicing rural journalism can be difficult at times due to fewer events and a small population, however, Greg kept us busy and taught me through example how to dig up stories when options seemed sparse.

I made the right choice by coming to the Times-Journal. The fact that I was one of only three writers on staff (including Greg) allowed me to get ample page space in each weekly edition.

I also was able to pursue larger, in-depth feature stories in addition to the grind of hard news. Greg gave me a lot of control on my larger stories and that allowed me to grow as both a reporter and writer.

There were two feature stories I did this summer of which Iím particularly proud. The first was a report on the Hispanic population of Russell County. I talked with many Hispanics in the area, giving them a voice to express their perspectives on the area and its people.

The other story Iím particularly happy with focused on the debate over church and state that occurred when a local student contacted the ACLU in order to have the prayer at his graduation blocked by a federal judge. It was an action that angered many local residents, rallying them to unity. However, I felt the story of the student who had initiated the controversy had been left out of the initial media response and so I decided to give that person a voice in the community. The story turned out very well and explored the reasons the student had felt it necessary to contact the ACLU.

My overall experience at the Times-Journal has been valuable and enriching and I would highly recommend others to seek an internship at this particular paper.


Normaida Bright
Central-Kentucky News Journal

As I woke up on the first day of my internship at the Central-Kentucky News Journal, the butterflies in my stomach were intense. I didn't know what to expect.

I was worried how the staff would feel about me and if they would like my writing. Then I started to worry about the thousands of other people who subscribed to the paper and how they would react to the way I wrote, for each writer has a different way of wording things.

But I soon realized there was nothing to worry about, that I was just experiencing the jitters from starting something new in life.

After I arrived and got settled in, my first story was about the upcoming local high school graduations. I kept having to call the schools back to ask more questions and I felt, in a way, stupid because I was very nervous and I'd forget an important question to ask.

When my editor and I went over my story, she literally butchered the story, but she told me that she does the same to other writers' stories and even her own. So that took away the anxiety.

As I have worked here for the past 10 weeks, I've come to realize that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I'm very curious about what's going on in the community, in the state and around the world. My husband calls me a "news junky" because all I do is go online and check out the news and the weather.

In addition, to be able to have this opportunity and do what all journalists experience on a daily basis is amazing and a fresh reward. Besides, I like meeting new people everyday; it's pretty cool and interesting.

Throughout my 10-week stay, I have learned a whole bunch:

ē Some stories are different than others.

ē Some stories are kind of boring such as city council meetings.

ē Sometimes it feels like you're pulling teeth to get someone to talk to you - even if you ask that person the same question over and over.

ē What you learn at school doesn't apply in the real newspaper business, even if the professor says it will.

ē Grammar is still not my best subject.

ē No matter what you write, you'll often end up making someone mad, although I really haven't experienced that, yet.

My stay here has been amazing. I learned things that I wouldn't have learned at school, and I had the opportunity to meet some very interesting people. The people I worked with were very kind and extremely helpful, especially the editor. I'm just glad she never got angry every time I made the same mistakes over and over.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay and I would do it again in a heartbeat. As for the future, who knows, but what I do know is that I want to work at a local newspaper and do something that I love to do, which is cover the news, meet new people and write about it.


Amber Coulter
Madisonville Messenger

It was 2:30 a.m., and I was basking in the flashing lights of a police car that had just pulled me over.

I was doing 45 mph in a 35 zone. The Madisonville police need more work.

The middle-of-the-night infraction started when I was settling down to sleep and got a bad feeling that there might be something wrong with my story. I wanted to fix it. The officer running my license plate number had other plans.

The police officer returned to the car with my license and registration. He said the good news was that I wasnít going to jail. The bad news was that I had to step out of the car and dance to get off with a warning.

They really do need more work.

I started to unfasten my seat belt because, hey, I have some moves, but the officer was kidding. He turned me loose with an admonition, and I finished my mission to the paper at a solid 35 mph.

The events that donít go as planned, the times when you do something crazy because you love your job are the memories that stick with you.

Madisonville was good to me. I saw how professionals handle difficult situations, and I became a better journalist.

But I think the events I remember most will always include the time I was asked to dance in the street to avoid a ticket and the time I defended my story and won when a small-town mayor didnít like what Iíd written.

Those are the things that remind me why I care enough to do this job well.


Shannon Mason
Anderson News

I spent my first summer away from home interning at The Anderson News in Lawrenceburg. Even though my real home was 130 miles away, the people of Lawrenceburg and the staff at The News made me feel like I was one of their own.

For the first time in my short journalism career, I got the opportunity to work at a weekly paper, an interesting change of pace from the dailies to which I had been accustomed.

While at The News I got the chance to meet, interview, photograph and write about many of the people in Lawrenceburg. I covered stories about a man who traveled all the way from Bangladesh to meet his teenage "girlfriend" whom he'd met on the Internet, about a tree that smashed into the roof of an American Legion clubhouse during a storm and about kids in the neighborhood who really didn't have anything to do.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was having the chance to write a weekly column and getting comments from readers on my thoughts and opinions, whether the columns focused on how to survive one's first year at college or how I thought the media showed us a little too much of Iraqi terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after his death.

I'll have to admit, though, the best part of working at The News was actually working with the people there. I was surrounded by professionals who knew what they were doing and who always had answers to my questions. And even though I was just "the intern," they were nothing but nice to me and showed me the respect they would show to any other journalist.

While at The News, I strove to give the residents of Lawrenceburg and Anderson County reliable information they could count on week after week. I hoped I served them well.


Megan Jones
Sentinel-Echo

Getting to know a new town is always a distinct enjoyment, and the smell of Sara Lee greeted me as I began my work as the Kentucky Press Association intern for The Sentinel-Echo in London. In that smell, I experienced adventure, drama and changes in management.

For half the summer at The Sentinel-Echo, I had the pleasure of sharing an office with the former managing editor. My desk was crammed in one cozy little corner of the office, and I sometimes felt like the misfit who gets shoved in the corner when he or she does something wrong. But space in the office was pretty limited, especially when network hook ups were concerned.

I appreciated spending time with the reporters and learning methods they use to get their job done in the best and most moral way possible. Although reporters see many tragic events, some still manage to maintain their humanity. Anyone can respect that.

In my chronicles of experience from KPA internships, I can write a new chapter. This summer, I covered my first fatality. I know that as soon as my family reads this, they will be horrified at my use of casual language with the concept of death. But, as most of you out there know, covering the bad is a job that must be done. We write about a community and the people who live in it, and we always write about members who leave it, in one form or another.

I enjoyed my time in London and look forward to using the experiences I gained here in the future.


Amanda Morris
Times Leader

Working as an advertising intern at the Times Leader this summer has allowed me to meet new people, learn more about the newspaper business and living on my own.

Although this was my second KPA internship, I was not for sure what to expect. This time the internship was not in a town I was familiar with and I was selling advertising. My main project for the summer was to sell for special sections that would run in the paper throughout the year, but the job didnít stop there. I would also help in the front office answering calls and waiting on customers.

From doctors to restaurant owners to lawyers to community members wanting to buy a subscription to the paper I was able to meet and get to know several people in the town.

Being able to work with (Publisher) Chip (Hutcheson) and the rest of the staff at the Times Leader has been a wonderful experience. I got to see what it takes to get a bi-weekly newspaper on newsstands.

As I leave Princeton I am not only taking memories and learned lessons with me, but also several friendships. These 10 weeks have been 10 weeks of reassuring me this is what I want to do.


Maggie Williams
News-Herald

Coming into this internship, I was unsure what I would take away from it but the last 10 weeks have given me much-needed direction. I can actually see myself making a career in journalism. Meeting deadlines, following hunches and the sense of really connecting with a community ó it all sends shivers down my spine. Perhaps that is what this internship is all about.

Having lived my whole life in the community where my internship placed me, I already had a certain familiarity with the people and places. Working at the News-Herald, however, has allowed me to meet so many new people on entirely different terms, something for which I am grateful.

The KPA internship has also been a tremendous learning experience. Patti, my editor, showered me with opportunities that I was more than ready to explore. Not only have I become a better writer, but I have learned to design and layout pages, process submitted material and train my eyes and ears to recognize news-worthy events when they happen. Certainly, there were times ears to recognize news-worthy events when they happen. Certainly, there were times when I was overwhelmed ó my editor on vacation, the design, layout and publication of an issue of the newspaper was put in my hands. It was that week, though, that I proved to myself that I might actually be cut out for this.

I cannot stress enough what an eye-opening experience this has been. Walking away with a sense of accomplishment, I look forward to the path on which I find myself.


Sasha Williams
Pioneer News

Who knew a summer internship could involve wild motorcycle rides, burning buildings, smashed up cars and deep fried Oreos?

When I was chosen as one of 20 Kentucky Press Association interns this summer, I had no idea that community journalism would require me to be a jack of all trades and a daredevil to boot.

I have some experience in journalism. I'm a communications major at the University of Louisville and I was the news editor of the student newspaper, the Louisville Cardinal, for a year.

Those who have been in the field longer than I've been alive laugh when they hear that and then try to warn me about the profession. Bad hours, bad pay and no life outside work, they say.

I say if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.

At least, that's what I said before I worked 10 weeks at a community newspaper.

The Pioneer News is located in Shepherdsville. The paper covers all of the small towns in Bullitt County; eight officially incorporated cities.

I felt prepared when I began my internship. I knew how to be concise, leave myself out of the story and get the job done. I thought I knew what was expected of me.

I knew my job would require me to meet a lot of new people, but I didn't know I'd have to approach strangers on the street to ask them "people poll" questions. I quickly became accustomed to both rudeness and people who wanted to tell me everything they personally felt was wrong with the county.

I knew I'd be covering city council meetings, but I didn't know how heated the debates could become.

I knew I'd be writing new business stories, but I didn't realize I'd be the one counting down at their ribbon cuttings.

I knew that I'd see car accidents, but I didn't know I'd have to walk over a mile by the side of the road to get to them because traffic can get so backed up.

I knew I'd see house fires but I never imagined I'd see children, with no shoes on, sitting in a yard across the street watching their house burn down.

I knew I'd be an intern, but I didn't know how much I'd learn. Or how much fun I'd have.

This internship has allowed me many unique experiences. Early one morning I drove 20 minutes to report on a house fire, only to find all the fuss was caused by a pot of burned beans. On a separate occasion I was able to spend several hours with children at a Muscular Dystrophy summer camp. "Tattoo" Charlie Wheeler was there to give the kids rides in his motorcycle's sidecar. They were hesitant, so I went first to pave the way. Another day, my co-workers and I ate deep fried Oreos while covering the county fair.

I've learned more during my time at the Pioneer News than in all of my journalism classes combined. The editor has never let me get in over my head, but he expects me to do my job. I've learned to juggle stories and still make deadlines. After seeing my carefully laid plans blown to bits by breaking news, I've learned to roll with the punches. And that working late hours is just part of the job.

I still say if you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life: you'll work nights, too.


Ashley Maines
Winchester Sun

Although I've called Winchester home for all my 21 years, I've learned more about this town and met more people this summer than I could have imagined. I have received much more than the expected lessons about the ins and outs of a newspaper.

Since joining The Winchester Sun May 15, I've learned about the town's politics and the way things work. I've discovered that downtown is actually a lovely, bustling part of the city, and not the obsolete, worn-down area with nothing to offer someone my age that I'd always thought it to be.

I've met and become friendly acquaintances with several firefighters and police officers (although it may not necessarily be a good thing since I now catch myself speeding more often and caring less).

Numerous people have introduced themselves to me, telling me they've enjoyed my features and look for my byline in each issue.

I've talked to interesting people who had stories that were aching to be told, and I'm going to have the opportunity to interview and meet a country singer that I'm a big fan of in September.

My internship at the Winchester Sun has truly been a positive experience. It was great to come home from college for the summer and write for the newspaper that I grew up reading. I've loved seeing my name on the Sun's pages, and I now know firsthand how a daily professional newspaper works. Iím also looking forward to my future as a journalist now more than ever because of the friendly, encouraging atmosphere that greets me every day from the moment I walk through The Sun's doors.

I've grown as a sports and features writer, lay out designer, photographer and reporter over the past 10 weeks. But more importantly, I have seen the heart and character of Winchester and have become proud to call it my hometown.


Kelly McKinney
Advocate Messenger

When a 60-foot tree fell across Main Street in Danville for no apparent reason, it became the fourth or fifth tree (the others fell in storms) I wrote about for the Advocate-Messenger. That's the closest to sameness my internship ever was.

I had no time to be bored, not even in the beginning; there was no "getting used to everything" period. On my third day, John Nelson, the editor, asked me if I wanted to write on deadline. Because I knew the question was rhetorical and saying no wasn't an option, I said "sure." I was nervous, but I did it. I got my story in just ten minutes late (it could have been worse considering nobody answered their phones that morning).

After that, I was in. I never felt like an outsider, or "just an intern." When John told me there was nothing he wouldn't send me to cover, I believed him. And he quickly proved it.

I never fetched coffee, or made copies, or shredded paper. I learned; I reported; I wrote.

I wrote about Scott Bottoms, a single dad who coached his sons' baseball teams and was retiring. I wrote about a peach tree that looked like it took fertility drugs (it sprouted so many peaches its owners had to tie its branches to its trunk to keep them from breaking off). I met and told the story of a local woman who needs a kidney to save her from the dialysis machine that holds her prisoner four hours a day, four days a week.

I also reported harder news: a boy nearly drowned at church camp, how the schools are attempting to combat childhood obesity, how the family court refuses people access to their records.

I worked for the Advocate-Messenger just ten weeks (it felt like two), but I feel I made a difference. My short time there will be forever imprinted on those news pages ? pages that tell people things they would never know otherwise.


Erin L. McCoy
LaRue County Herald News

Ten weeks are over ≠ ten weeks that started out as a flurry of information, new faces and new landscapes, and ended as one of the best learning experiences Iíve ever gotten tangled up in.

Iíve finished my term as The LaRue County Herald Newsí summer intern, and canít help but be a little sad. Learning about this place, and the people in it, from every possible angle has been my goal since I arrived. Iíve written articles for every section (I just wrote my first sports piece, about rodeo contestants) and taken photos at field days and murder trials. With this variety, I never got tired, and as Iím primarily a writer and page designer, taking photos was a fun addition to my responsibilities.

I have no one to thank for this summer except for the wonderful group of people Iíve worked with here at the paper, the Kentucky Press Association, and the people of LaRue County.

The staff at The Herald News showed an immediate confidence in me. Linda Ireland, Melissa Nalley, Mona Coffey, Charlotte Isbell and Dana Holt answered every question, gave every one of my ideas consideration, and taught me about LaRue County. I was not so much an intern as a member of the staff, and that was an invaluable completion to my education in LaRue County.


Candace Allen
Trimble Banner

The first thing that comes to mind when I look back over the last few weeks since starting my internship, is the wonderful people that I have encountered and had the opportunity to work with. I have seen and visited a number of places in my 22 years, I can say by far the people in Trimble County are the friendliest people! They are so warm and welcoming. It didnít matter where I was people would happily introduce themselves to me and welcome me to their community. I know this may not seem like much but when you are the new kid on the block and donít know much about the block youíre on, a warm welcome makes all the difference.

Not only have I had the opportunity to meet great people, I also have gained a wealth of knowledge in the process. Trimble County may not be the richest county when it comes to wealth; however, they are rich in a wealth of history. I have learned so much about the countyís history, like how the Underground Railroad ran straight through Trimble county during slavery time and have seen the old plantations where slaves and slave masters lived. Although I have been challenged to write articles that I have never written before and learned some basic yet important tips about photography, there isnít one thing about this whole experience that I would change. Except for maybe the length of my stay, I would definitely make it a whole lot longer. When it is all said and done and my internship is over, I will truly miss Trimble County. Working here [Trimble County] has made me realize that people are people no matter where they live. But people from small towns are a whole lot nicer!


Erin Schmitt
The Gleaner

To put it succinctly my internship at The Gleaner has made me a better writer. From the first phone call until I edit my article for mistakes the fifth time, Iíve strengthened my reporting and writing skills. Interviews with the various subjects and people Iíve covered helped me appreciate that everyone has a story, and it is important to be respectful of that story no matter what the topic. The staff at the paper have been nothing but encouraging and helpful. Their years of valuable experience has broadened my perspective on how a newsroom operates. This experience has helped reaffirm my desire to be a journalist or at the least work in a related field.

 

 


Samantha Hupman
Franklin Favorite

What itís like to be a reporter is something thatís hard to teach in a classroom. While Iíve learned a lot about journalism in college, Iíve learned more about being a journalist this summer than I have in two years of classes. Spending 10 weeks at the Franklin Favorite has taught me what itís like to work at a professional newspaper, and what to expect from the field after I graduate.

Iíve gained invaluable experience by covering city commission and fiscal court. I feel more confident about covering these types of meetings now, and I think itís a skill that I will be glad to have in the future. Also, I learned a lot about how local government works, which will be useful for reporting. Itís also interesting for me as a political science major.

Writing features has always been something I like to do, and working in Franklin has given me significant opportunities to do that. Being here has taught me that human interest stories can be found in many places, from high schools to local churches. Iíve also gotten to work in different areas, such as Portland and White House, Tenn.

Iíve always mainly been involved in the writing part of the newspaper, but this summer I have gotten experience with taking photos and designing pages as well. I think this will make me more qualified for jobs in the field of journalism. I also understand better how parts of a newspaper work together, including the business aspects of it.

Most importantly to me, I have learned to apply concepts learned in classes to situations at a professional newspaper. This has been my first internship, and my first experience of actually doing what I am going to school for, besides working for student newspapers. I think itís experience that will help me in school and professionally, and has made me more confident about my future.


Dariush Shafa
Messenger-Inquirer Intern

When I began hunting for internships late last year and early into this year, it seemed like Owensboro was fated to be the place I would spend the summer.

All the larger newspapers I applied to were suffering budget woes.

After a summer as an intern for the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, a summer internship at a community daily in Kentucky would seem like a step down to a lot of people.

I didn't think so. It seemed like the perfect internship for me, since community journalism is where I want to spend the rest of my days until I'm old, gray and people turn to me rather than the stylebook and ask me what newsprint smells like.

Wouldn't you know it, I was right.

Owensboro has offered me opportunities no other paper could. I have written stories, shot photos, been harassed by an agent of the Secret Service while covering a vice presidential visit, nearly been pitched into the Ohio River by the Coast Guard, made many new friends both in the business and out and learned amazing and wonderful things about my chosen career.

And it wouldn't have happened if I'd gone to any other place.

Owensboro has a reputation as a good newspaper, both in the community and in the professional journalism world. When the reporters at my desk call people, they simply say "I'm with the newspaper." People here respond to that. They respect the paper and rely on it. After working here for 10 weeks, I can see why.

I have been blessed to be part of a dedicated staff. Sure, there are woes just like at any other paper, worries about funding and staffing, circulation and where the community newspaper will be in five or 10 years.

They don't let anything stop them from continuing to put out a quality product that matters to the people, which is more important than anything else, I think. So long as the journalism matters to the community, so long as it makes a difference in their lives, the ultimate mission of journalism is being accomplished and its highest ideals being met.

And I count myself as supremely fortunate to have been a part of that, if only for a short while.


Greg Crews
Georgetown News-Graphic

The past 10 weeks that I have spent at the Georgetown News-Graphic have been quite a learning experience, not just little tricks of the trade, but reporting as a whole.

Midway trough my first week at the paper, the police scanner sounded for all units to come help with an injury/fatality accident that had happened on Interstate 75. I was handed a camera and told to get at least one good shot.

Never before had I covered a breaking news story, and my experience with a camera was limited, but I managed to get some good photos as well as an unforgettable experience.

The News-Graphic staff never tried to hold my hand and lead me through with baby steps. Rather, they let me try it on my own while they acted as a safety net and let me learn through experience. There was always someone there to answer any questions I had, but most of my learning came through my mistakes (of which there were plenty), which is by far the best way to learn. It generally only takes me one screw up before I get the hang of something.

I have greatly appreciated my time at the News-Graphic this summer. I have gained more knowledge and experience in the felid of reporting than I ever could in a classroom. Plus, this internship has landed me a full-time reporting position at the the News-graphic and a start to what is hopefully a long and distinguished career.

 

 

 

 

Click Here to go back


Copyright © The Kentucky Press Association/Service All rights reserved.
Kentucky Press Association