Carrollton, Ky., is a quaint town nestled between the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers, and is home to my summer internship at The News-Democrat. It is only a 25 minutes drive from my home, but it seemed a significantly different world from which I was accustomed to.
Carrollton has roughly half the population of where I grew up, and although I considered my hometown small before I went to college, I have now found the true meaning of a Kentucky ‘small-town.’
Some think ‘small town’ is a bad thing, somehow uneducated, insulated from the outside world or even boring. I must admit, at first I was a little weary of working in Carrollton at The News-Democrat or in Bedford at The Trimble Banner for those same reasons, but I was naive.
Naïve to think there would be no interesting stories to report on, naïve to think I couldn’t learn things from this community, naïve to think that I wouldn’t love it.
As it turns out, I have fallen in love with Carrollton and all its characters. The people are incredibly warm and welcoming, sincere and generous, open and helpful.
I could not have hoped for a better first-internship experience. I have been able to work for two papers honing an array of skills including news and feature writing, editing, photography and layout, not to mention just having the experience of working with professional journalists.
And who said nothing goes on in small towns?
Okay, maybe I haven’t covered earth-shattering events, but I was impressed at the amount of interesting stories yearning to be told. I’m averaging about three to four stories a week along with various photo assignments.
I’ve written about Camp KYSOC, a get-away for people with mental and physical handicaps that was abruptly closed just before summer. It broke the hearts of many in the community, leaving them to wonder what will happen to the property and what the options are for their loved ones who cherished visiting the camp.
I’ve covered the plight of residents of a local mobile home park. Due to critical health department violations that caused the owner’s permit to be suspended, the residents only had 35 days to find a new home.
I’ve reported on a city-wide mock emergency exercise, in which one of the local industrial facilities had a chemical spill and all emergency personnel had to correspond appropriately.
Some of my other favorite stories covered the rise of prescription drug abuse in the local area and a two-time Judo Olympian and current US Olympic Judo coach, Pat Burris, who came to Trimble County to teach a judo class. Sometimes stories catch you off guard like one particularly entertaining cornhole tournament I wrote about.
This internship has taught me valuable lessons this summer. I’ve learned the superiority of face-to-face interviews and the importance to create and keep a good rapport with your sources even after your story is finished. I’ve learned how being involved or just attending community events can go a long way to help build ties with people that may be a source later.
These underlying lessons cannot necessarily be taught at the university, but instead have to be experienced in the real world. I have my coworkers at The News-Democrat and The Trimble Banner and the communities of Carrollton and Bedford to thank for my education this summer.