High school seniors at Pendleton County are encouraged to participate in a mock interview with community employers in whatever field they feel so inclined to pursue after graduation. Back in the olden days of 2015, I was a semi-bright-eyed high school senior. I had always wanted to pursue a job within the media. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the mock interview. I sat down in the library and met with Neil Belcher, current publisher of The Outlook.
From my perspective, the interview went well. We discussed my future plans, Neil’s backstory & career in the news industry and working at The Outlook. Little did I know I wasn’t the only student Neil met with that day. He also interviewed my classmate Sarah Tackett who is now a colleague of mine at The Outlook. It’s funny to look back on how things turn out. I don’t believe it was a coincidence we both ended up working for our local newspaper at the same time.
I have been enamored with American media ever since I can remember. From second grade on, I would wake up every morning before school to watch ESPNews highlights before I hopped on the bus to head to school. I would meticulously comb the columns of the Kentucky Enquirer to familiarize myself with local athletes and reporters. My mother was a devoted subscriber of the Wall Street Journal. We would get a physical newspaper delivered to our front door daily. I don’t know how many 10 year old kids were regularly reading the Wall Street Journal, but I was one of the proud few. However, the most influential news medium in my life has always been the Falmouth Outlook.
As my internship with the Kentucky Press Association has drawn to a close, I admit that it has been an honor and a blessing to be able to work for my hometown newspaper. I’ve been a reporter at The Outlook since July of 2017 when I started as the beat writer for the high school football team. This opportunity was extended to me by current editor Keith Smith who continues to push me everyday. I branched out to covering girl’s basketball and baseball. I also wrote features on various subjects to improve my range of reporting.
When Keith and Neil informed me of the KPA internship, I enthusiastically hopped on the opportunity. This summer has broadened my approach to journalism. Through the KPA internship, I have been able to interview high-ranking city and county officials, cover various events ranging from beauty pageants to NASCAR races and continue to improve at using Adobe platforms to create and edit content.
Many people in the community don’t realize how hard my colleagues work in order to put out our product. Day in and day out we work to serve and inform the people of our community. We are the only source of news covering events within the county. Without the Falmouth Outlook, our community would be a informational blackhole. Journalism is an time-consuming job. We aren’t the New York Times, but we are the New York Times of Pendleton County. Local journalism is as important now as it’s ever been, especially in rural communities like ours.
My main message is to not take The Outlook for granted. One day communities like ours might not have a local newspaper to cover events like school board meetings, local sporting events or the county fair. The way we consume our news is changing and with it, The Outlook will have to continue adapt to the times. In the mean time, please support local journalism across our state and great nation.
This is a challenging time for the press in our nation. People don’t trust the media. In many aspects, why should they? But we can’t abandon it. We must seek to improve it. Journalists must hold themselves accountable. People who read the news should be open to improving their media literacy. Both of these issues don’t usually happen due to pride and ignorance. Our public discourse has suffered tremendously as a result.
Read the news. Diversify your media consumption. Don’t just consume content that reinforces your opinion. Get out of your echo chamber. Challenge yourself. If you hate the Washington Post, read it anyway. If you hate watching Fox News, watch it anyway. If you hate reading the Huffington Post, read it anyway. If you hate listening to Rush Limbaugh, listen to it anyway. Or don’t. That’s your own prerogative but you are only hurting yourself. I usually find the people who complain the most are generally the least informed.
I will be continuing to cover sports and writing features for The Outlook. I’m excited for my future with the newspaper. Even if I don’t have a full-time job here in the future, I will always want to be a contributor. I want to thank the KPA, David Thompson, Neil Belcher, Keith Smith, Mac McKerrall, Amanda Crawford, Andrea Kneeland, Evan Heichelbech, all of my journalism colleagues & professors at Western Kentucky University and The Outlook.
“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.” – Paul “Bear’ Bryant #SupportLocalJournalism