Sentinel-Echo intern experiences why KPA established the program in the first place: To learn far beyond the classroom

By Cameron Coyle, Western Kentucky University, London Sentinel Echo

Cameron Coyle

Working at the Sentinel-Echo in London this summer did the one thing I thing I was hoping it would: solidify my passion for journalism.

I have been very indecisive about my career path since my early years in high school, and when I changed my major to journalism my sophomore year of college I was nervous I wasn’t going to stick with it. However, I fell in love with it more each day I got to write.

The Sentinel-Echo thrust me into a professional environment that allowed me to learn in a way a classroom couldn’t teach me (working at my college newspaper could only give me so much experience).

The smaller staff size at the Sentinel-Echo gave me the opportunity to write about a plethora of different subjects, from covering gubernatorial candidate Robert Goforth casting a vote for himself in his hometown to writing feature stories previewing the musical acts who came into our office and performed live once a week (I also got to stream these acts and interview them between songs, giving me valuable on-camera experience).

I was assigned stories and taught how to work on a tight deadline, but also given the chance to pitch stories I found on my own. I even was able to utilize my film studies minor by writing a movie review for one issue.

I would be remiss if I did not first thank Erin Cox, the editor for not only the Sentinel-Echo in London, but also the Times-Tribune in Corbin.

I have never seen someone manage the amount of work she does, not just in the newsroom, but in nearly any work environment. How someone can edit two newspapers in two separate cities, be present in both offices and keep a constantly level-head every day is beyond me.

Erin entrusted me with a lot of assignments and she was always readily available to answer any questions I had without being frustrated or dismissive. She never micromanaged my work, giving me freedom to write while also helping me figure out the best angle to approach a story.

She was everything I was told a good editor would be and I have the upmost respect for her.

Mark Walker, the general manager and advertising director for the Sentinel-Echo and the Times-Tribune, also was able to help me whenever I needed it and was also patient in figuring out the best solution to a problem.

I was happy to see the type of leadership Erin and Mark have at the Sentinel-Echo. It made coming to work enjoyable and I thank them for giving me this chance.

I also would like to thank Dillan Combs and Nita Johnson, the two reporters I worked with during my 10 weeks. They were friendly and were able to give me useful advice about being an efficient reporter.

I am thankful to get to know Brenda Crook and Rhonda Lawson, who greeted me every day when I came in to work with an attitude that made me feel welcome literally as soon as I stepped into the office.

Shari Sevier, the page designer for the Sentinel-Echo, was also always friendly to me and taught me about how the newspaper has changed over the last few decades. While I never worked with James Marcum or Louise Parsons in the advertising department frequently, they were also always prepared to assist me whenever I needed it.

I had spent time in London before in passing, but getting acquainted to a city I was hardly familiar with improved my people skills and allowed me to learn more about the area. Nearly everyone I came in contact with was friendly and ready to help, like Kelly Burton, the co-executive director of London-Laurel County Tourism, or Magen Zawko, the public information officer for the London Police Department.

Getting to grow as a journalist around people who wanted to help me succeed made this summer infinitely rewarding and I feel more prepared than ever to continue in the field of journalism.

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