Whoever first muttered those dreaded words, “Newspapers are dying,” apparently has never been to Union County, Ky. before.
After interning at the Union County Advocate in Morganfield, Ky. for over a month now, it still takes me by surprise when people come up to me with ear to ear smiles and send thank you cards wanting to discuss a story in last week’s paper.
People here actually read the newspaper front to back, because those same people are the newspaper. Let me introduce you to small-town community journalism, or in other words, my newest summer love.
The office’s doorbell is constantly buzzing with a new subscription order or a sold advertisement.
Even though I live just forty minutes away, the concept of a weekly thriving was brand new to me. Scratch that, everything about this county was brand new to me.
It has been an experience that’s been both educational and priceless as a journalism student at Western Kentucky University.
While attending WKU, I have written about various sports for the College Heights Herald and covered high school football for the Kentucky New Era. All excellent forms of experience ---- But unlike the experience I've received at the Advocate.
In the past five weeks, I’ve been sent to the local high school's graduation, city council meetings, car shows, Red Hat Society meetings, city parks, child plays, the marathon which people call the Union County Fair, 4-H dog shows, churches, and countless neighbors’ homes.
I had never talked to city officials, local pastors or a mother who lost her 8 year-old-son a year before in a tragic accident. I had never even stepped close to the Little Sturgis Rally or saw a newspaper collection from the 1940s. I had never sat down with those types of people and tried to understand and relate their stories to the world.
For a girl who once thought when you hit your twenties, well, you're pretty much done growing up, this summer at the Advocate has above all helped me grow up in more ways than one.
When I leave this newsroom to venture back to my old, I'll take with me the long conversations in living rooms with Union County residents, the meaningful handshakes, a new love for the Feed Mill Restaurant and a subscription to the Advocate in hand.
Months from now, I'll need to revisit that amazing feel of small-town community journalism that I found in my new favorite weekly newspaper, the Advocate.