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Laura Butler
Eastern Kentucky University
Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

This is my second year working as a Kentucky Press Association intern, and the past six weeks have been a fantastic introduction to life at a daily newspaper. So far, my summer has been filled with many learning opportunities from great mentors and friends, and I’ve gotten to hone some design skills I hadn’t used in quite a while.

My internships could not be any more different from each other. Last summer I spent 10 weeks working as a reporter/photographer at The Jessamine Journal, a weekly in Nicholasville with a circulation of about 6,000. It was a perfect opportunity to ease into reporting for a publication other than our school newspaper.

The tools I’m most accustomed to using are a notebook and camera, but this summer I’ve become fast friends with my toolbox in InDesign.  I’ve switched gears and am working as a copy editor at the Messenger-Inquirer. The daily Owensboro paper serves a larger community and has a circulation of about 27,000 during the week and around 30,000 on Sundays. The pace here is much faster, but I like the challenge it presents. I also have a heightened sense of responsibility, as it’s my job to lay out the entire Region (local) section five days per week. Working as a copy editor has helped me become more familiar with my AP Stylebook and realize just how important it is to be able to write a strong headline.

This internship is also giving me the chance to experience what it’s like to be a true night owl. With shifts on the copy desk running from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., I feel rather nocturnal. But at least this gives me an excuse for sleeping until noon now.

I’ve learned a lot about being more independent this summer since I’m living by myself in an apartment five hours away from my family, but I’ve also learned to value the teamwork and camaraderie that comes with a newsroom. The copy desk team has taken me under their wing and made me feel welcome. I like joking around with my co-workers, but I also get pleasure out of the way we help each other. Sometimes that’s by coming up with a better headline for a story or sometimes it’s giving someone’s page a second set of eyes before it goes to the printer. With a desk of about eight copy editors paginating at least three newspapers each night, there’s always plenty of work to go around.

Last summer I learned how to be a better reporter and photographer. This summer, I’ve learned how to be a better copy editor and designer. While the number of job openings at newspapers might not get any higher, and in reality will probably drop even lower, I know that if I spend my last year at Eastern continuing to pursue learning more about what it takes to be a well-rounded journalist, the future should seem a little brighter.