Blake Sandlin, The Crittenden Press, Marion
Murray State University
When my journalism professor, Leigh Wright, approached me about an opportunity to intern in Marion, Kentucky, at the conclusion of last school year, I was skeptical at best. I’d driven through the town of 3,000 people a few times before; a place where the gas station, McDonald’s, grocery store and other small, miscellaneous shops encompass the quintessence of the town. I didn’t believe a place so small could have such a big impact on my aspiring career in journalism – that is, until I came here.
Countless trips passing through Marion previously couldn’t attest to the experience I had with their weekly paper this summer, The Crittenden Press. What may seem to some as a boring way to spend a summer – driving nearly an hour from my home in Calvert City, Kentucky, just to sit in a cubicle and transcribe dozens of stories on topics readers in larger cities deem trivial – became for me a rewarding opportunity.
What might be newsworthy in Marion isn’t newsworthy in Louisville; and that’s just fine. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the course of this eight-week internship. Just because a story in a local newspaper may be deemed insignificant in comparison to one in The Courier-Journal doesn’t minimize its impact on that particular community.
I spent my summer in Marion writing stories covering a rural youth camp that prohibited technology, a column on my experience at a local high school reunion and another reporting on the intentions of motorists who travel across the Ohio River by way of a local ferry. Readers elsewhere would hardly bat an eye to stories like this, but not those in Marion. Sure, sometimes it was boring, and sure, oftentimes it took me out of my comfort zone, but what matters was that it meant something to this community.
And that’s why we’re in this business. It’s definitely not for the money, despite the more than generous sum paid by the Kentucky Press Association. (Mad props, by the way). It’s the countless emails and compliments I received from members of the community, simply for bringing a spotlight to things they cared about. It’s moments like that that compensate for the grueling hours spent in front of a computer, boiling over because you can’t think of the perfect closing and coming to the realization that you’ll be dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome for the rest of your life. Those moments make me proud that I’m pursuing journalism, and make me proud that I chose The Crittenden Press as a stepping stone.
So thank you to the readers of The Crittenden Press who invigorated me any chance they got, allowing me to bring a unique perspective to their paper. Thank you to KPA for providing such a tremendous internship program for passionate journalism students to pursue. Most of all, I’m indebted to the staff of The Press – Chris, Daryl, Allison and Alaina – for being so encouraging and lending a helping hand whenever needed. You all made coming to work fun, and I won’t forget you all and the invaluable lessons and experience I’ve gained interning as I return to Murray State for my sophomore year.