There is a common myth that small towns are sleepy and boring; that they see little action, and virtually no scandal. To those who succumb to this myth, I say look again—and this time, try to see things from the perspective of a reporter.
When I accepted an internship at the LaRue County Herald, I thought I might have to spend the majority of my time searching out story ideas. With a population less than half of that of the university I attend, Larue County isn’t exactly a booming metropolis, so I assumed that “breaking news” wasn’t a commonality. I was wrong.
From day one, my life as a small town journalist was certainly not dull. Story ideas were plentiful, thanks to constant tips from county officials, and citizens of the community. Perhaps because the town is small and close-knit, LaRue Countians are truly passionate about making sure their voices are heard and their stories are told, so story suggestions were never lacking.
During the first days of my internship, I was thrown into the daily routines of the newspaper, and, unlike reporters at larger newspapers who cover specific beats, I got to see, hear and cover it all.
I covered elections and local government, and experienced the power and influence of community politics. I wrote feature stories and human-interest pieces, and met some of the most interesting and genuine people I’ve ever known. I photographed kids at summer camp and British exchange students, fields of farmland and new businesses. With each photo I snapped, I captured a moment in time and learned that, as a reporter, I should see things from numerous angles.
Through it all, I have become a better journalist; I’ve learned how to ask the tough questions in an interview, deal with angry citizens and snap a photo when the lighting is just right. But more importantly, I have come to realize that, like every community has a unique pulse, small town journalism has a rhythm of its own. Great journalists are those who are in tune with this pattern and keep it going. In seeing this rhythm and becoming a part of it—if only for ten short weeks—my love for journalism has grown even stronger.
As an intern in LaRue County, my preconceived notions about small towns were proven wrong. I thought I would be surrounded by a place of predictability, but I found a town that – just like its big-city counterparts -- is alive with scandal, politics and more gossip than a reporter could hope for. The people of the community helped to shape the news that I reported, and my stories influenced the pulse of the town.
This internship has allowed me to hear and tell the stories of LaRue County, and I have grown to appreciate all that this little town stands for. My thanks to the KPA and to The LaRue County Herald for this opportunity—the experience will not soon be forgotten!