Jana Wiersema — KPA Intern with the Paducah Sun

She notes, Step one to being a journalist: Keep moving forward

Jana Wiersema

Whenever I told people that I was interning at the Paducah Sun, there was always something that seemed to surprise them.

“They actually let you write articles?” people would ask. “And your name goes on them?”

“Yes,” I’d reply. “It’s a newspaper. That’s kind of how it works.”

All kidding aside, it’s rare to find a paid internship doing what you love. I’ve been fortunate enough to hit that jackpot two years in a row; last year I was an intern at Kentucky Publishing Inc. And once again, the fact that my days aren’t filled with busywork or chores astounds most people. I may be an intern, but I’m not treated as an errand girl; I’m a writer, first and foremost.

What do I write about as a news intern at the Sun? Simple—anything and everything. A raccoon getting its head stuck in a peanut butter jar, a controversial political event, the outcome of a book sale, the Superman celebration—you name it.

I also take pictures when necessary, rewrite police reports and event press releases and compile lists of local events that people might want to attend. Sometimes I attend local events to get the scoop firsthand.

The biggest challenge has probably been dealing with errors. It’s pretty humiliating to have my mistakes pointed out to me and then printed in the newspaper for everyone to see. But I can’t dwell on the shame or frustration; what I have to do is keep moving forward and find ways to minimize the risk of error.

That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from working at the Sun—when faced with any problem, you have to “keep moving forward” (as Walt Disney would say), even if you end up going in an unexpected direction. If an article isn’t working out, find a different angle and keep working on it. If one person won’t talk to you, call someone who will.

Step one to being a journalist: Keep moving forward.

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