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Dean Childers
Campbellsville University
Adair County Community Voice

I began my internship experience working with what the staff at the Adair County Community Voice calls “Big Mac.” This Apple computer stuck with me as I wrote articles about 100-year-olds, motor sports and more.

My first feature assignment involved interviewing a 102-year-old woman who recorded courtroom proceedings in her prime. This assignment was to test “my skills working with older people,” said my editor. I visited the retirement home in the community in order to interview her for the story.

By the time those 10 weeks of interning passed I was surprised the Summit Manor (the nursing home) receptionist didn’t know me by name. Within a week of writing this story, the office received a call from someone saying they liked the story. I was shocked, pleased and then an epiphany punched me in the face. I had to improve my writing, dang it!
Another woman painted water-color pictures in her free time. Her room in Summit Manor felt like a miniature museum. Paintings hung on the walls and lay on her bed in her tiny room. The head nurse said that this lady “was special,” and when you study art in New York, you are special in Kentucky. The assignment taught me that I needed to enjoy people. Once I did, interviews flowed smoother.

Another interview stressed the importance of listening to your ‘interviewee.’ A woman turned 100 years old and I covered the party. I decided to return the following day to do a follow up interview with her to check some of the information I received. I held her soft, blanket-like hand while she attempted to recall memories within her seasoned mind. She gave most of her 100 years to taking care of others and it was a challenge to record it all. This experience taught me that there are different approaches to connecting to people during an interview, like holding their hand. I hope I did her life justice.

A friendly interview occurred a short time after when I spoke with an old motor sports veteran. I know nothing of motor sports or sports in general so I had to be baby fed with a spoon. The information was salty and the facts were unevenly seasoned; I needed to figure out what was needed and what was not. A long deadline night helped me fix the problems and cook it to its best. I hope the man is proud.

My job challenged me at times, and I grew accustom to my editors making revisions with their red pens. No draft is a masterpiece. I dare say none of my pieces are masterpieces, they’re experience points. 

With each story I would write, my reporting skill would ‘level up’ and I would look forward to revising pieces. The job provided me the necessary skills needed to enhance my writing and equipped me with the ears to truly listen to the people. I learned proof reading skills and how to give people constructive feedback on their stories.

I learned how to transform these people’s stories into page layouts that not only looked appealing but also drew the reader’s eye. My experience with The Voice provided opportunities to work with Quark and also refine my skills with Photoshop.
It’s a curious feeling to see your work in print, but it’s also a sign of growth.

Big Mac and the staff of the Voice (Sharon, Allison, Mindy, Christy, Sondra, Diane and Toni) all helped along this brief time of growth. I’ve enjoyed it and I hope to continue to better my writing in the future.