By Noah Oldham, University of Kentucky, Georgetown News-Graphic
My internship at the Georgetown News-Graphic has been a largely formative experience of the career in journalism that I’m actively pursuing. In the past 10 weeks I have been treated way less like an intern and much more like a reporter. I’ve learned a ton at the News-Graphic about local reporting and the importance of local newsrooms in their communities.
In my internship at the News-Graphic I essentially got to work full time as a reporter. I covered a lot of meetings. I sat in on meetings of the fiscal court, the board of education, the water board, and city councils/commissions. It was in covering these meetings that I really understood the watchdog purpose of journalism. I knew that my presence at these meetings was important because it made leaders aware that the community will know what actions they take. Even though I may not be personally interested in something like water rates, I learned that I had to stay alert and pay close attention so I could accurately inform people who would be affected by the decisions made in these meetings. Once I understood this, I gained a deeper appreciation for the role everyday journalists play in keeping our democracy transparent and functioning.
Another skill I learned at the News-Graphic is how to find stories. I found myself in meetings considering how the various topics brought up could lead to different stories, or how following up on a detail of one thing I reported on could lead to another story. For example, I wrote a story based on recently released data that showed that one in seven children in Scott County were food insecure. I reached out to the schools and to local charities to understand what was being done to address the problem of child hunger in the community. From this, I found out about a bus from the school system that was delivering meals to kids in Scott County over the summer. This lead me to another story where I tagged along with the bus to get a closer look at how the bus was addressing child food insecurity. This was one way I learned how one story can open up the door to another.
Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons that the News-Graphic gave me was in communication skills. I learned from working on stories that oftentimes you’re going to have to send a lot of emails and leave a lot of voicemails and not always get an immediate response. While it may feel rude or like a bother to continue reaching out to people for quotes, that can be what it takes in order to have a full story. I’ve learned to worry less about being bother in order to prioritize getting the information I need to share with the community.
My internship at the News-Graphic was an extremely valuable experience. I saw firsthand the importance of local newspapers and reporters in their communities. I gained a deeper appreciation for all the work that journalists across the world do to serve their communities by making information available and governments transparent. My communication skills, especially over the phone, were strengthened. I learned what it takes to work full time and to conduct and present myself as a professional. Most of all, this internship affirmed that journalism is the career path that I want to pursue. I’m grateful to the Kentucky Press Association and the Georgetown News-Graphic for letting me get this wonderful hands-on experience and showing me what it means to be a reporter.