It was a slow news day in late June. I ended up assigned to a story about the heat wave hitting the area (also known as summer). I toiled with the topic, calling everyone from the local E.R. to the health department to the county road crews. At the end of the day I finally sat down to write it with all the time in the world until deadline, maybe even able to make it out of the office a bit early. Until the news editor caught wind of a story from the photographer. A group from Hanover University working on the Simon Kenton house and leaving in 30 minutes. Leaving me with a leisurely 10 minutes to throw together a respectable weather story that would grace the front page, grab directions to the house and drive up a terrifying 70 degree hill with rollercoaster dips and curves.
Arriving at the house in sandals and a nice dress I reached for the jeans I've always kept in the car for exactly this situation. It was at this point that I realized the jeans are only truly useful when combined with a shirt. Mental note to toss one in. I would be facing the house in my dress and making the best of it.
I was greeted by the mayor and the president of the historical society. They ushered me into the house, once owned by Simon Kenton after he retired from the Supreme Court. The inside had been stripped down to bare timbers and smelled of sawdust and old wood. I picked my way across the floor, trying not to look like I was picking my way through. The mayor told me the professor I would be interviewing was on the top floor. That was when I noticed the staircase, and what the staircase seemed to be lacking: the bottom three steps. The stairs started nearly halfway up the wall. Fantastic.
With a small leap and a hiking of the skirt I made it onto the staircase with my dignity and notebook and began to slow, nerve-wracking climb up to the second floor. The staircase felt like it might come free from the wall at any given moment.
The upper level of the house was beautiful and terrifyingly unsteady. With six adults gingerly walking across the floor, each shift of weight seemed to make the building sway slightly. I conducted the interview, lengthy due to constant need for clarifications on dendroarcheology, with images of all of us crashing through the floor playing through my head in a loop.
In the end the interview went well and the story was well received. The publisher wandered over to tell me he liked my lead and the mayor stopped in to tell me how much he enjoyed the story. He said the professor told him he thought it was delightful to be interviewed by someone who asked all the right questions. He also said he was thrilled to meet a student that seemed to have a brain.
That night I called my mom, a former journalist, to tell her about the day. I was thrilled by the rush of a sudden looming deadline and the strange experience of crawling through the crumbling house of a famous man with the mayor and a pioneering scientist. I had felt like a real journalist and I had loved the feeling.
This summer, at the Maysville Ledger Independent, I have written fun, light feature stories, in-depth news features, simple news items and covered city and county meetings. I interviewed everyone from the mayor to a woman who was swimming all 981 miles of the Ohio River in 57 days, to a group of people receiving food off the back of a semi and a slew of senior citizens making Maysville their temporary home as they cross the country on motor scooters.
This internship also marks my first dip into daily deadlines. The first day of my internship I asked about the deadlines and was told everything had to be final by 10:30 p.m. I wondered if they meant that very day. They did. And so began my first very real experience writing and reporting on a deadline.
At first I was overwhelmed and pretty sure I wasn't going to survive the summer, but as I got used to the deadlines, the community and the shorthand on the court dockets, the easier everything became.
I don't think I could have asked for a better internship experience, nor do I think I could have ever found one. I was accepted as a staff writer and treated as such. I got the feel of working in a newsroom and it has only served to solidify my desire to do this after graduation.
Honestly if I could just keep doing this and extend my internship past summer that would be okay too.