I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with the Shelley Community Pioneer. The Community Pioneer is a local news outlet led by Jeff Kelley. The Pioneer reports on Bingham County news, specifically Firth and Shelley, Idaho, two small towns south of Idaho Falls. My main objective in interning with the Community Pioneer was to have a better understanding of journalism and learn the process of writing a piece for a local news outlet. Throughout my life I’ve been able to see that journalists get scrutinized; I have found myself scrutinizing journalists. I thought to myself that I should learn the journalistic process before criticizing it. I also understand the importance of community news and having local news for your town specifically. I also wanted to connect with people. Connecting with people and hearing from them directly is one of the cool things about local news, it can be very personal.
My Project Samples:
These are my notes about the North End Recreation District:
There are a lot of setbacks and challenges that accompany journalism, there are deadlines, not being able to reach people, trying to find content to write about. The main struggle I faced was trying to find content and subjects to write about. It was especially difficult since I live in Rexburg and I was to be reporting on local news, in Shelley and Firth. With that I found that most of my interviews were done over the phone, even by text messaging. Another significant issue was the learning curve. I know how to write, but I am learning how to write informatively, not too boring, not to expressive. Finding the happy medium with my writing tone was crucial, but also difficult to learn. If anything, the biggest challenge I had was trying to find local news to write about. Since I’m not in the community I’m not up to date on what the citizens of Shelley Idaho are talking about. Another huge challenge was trying to make my articles interesting period I didn’t want it to seem like a novel in the newspaper or on the computer. Trying to be thorough and concise was a challenge!
At the very beginning of the project, I thought it was important that I learn how to write like a journalist. I took a writing class last fall that was structured around journalism. I reviewed some of my notes from that class and did some research on writing styles and how to be an effective writer for a news outlet. After doing some research, it was time for me to begin choosing what I was going to write about. I called my mentor, Jeff, and we discussed some of the things at hand about which I could write. There was not a whole lot going on in the community at the time except for the general election which was coming up in November. As somebody who is interested in the political process, and who knows the importance of local elections, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to write about an issue on the ballot. While on the phone with Jeff he opened my mind to couple of ideas such as a letter to the editor about a constitutional amendment, a piece informing people about a certain candidate, and finally an article talking about a recreation district potentially being formed. That single issue intrigued me, and I wanted to write about that. As I learned through my research it is crucial to get all the facts and hear what the public is saying about an issue before it is written in a news piece. I took it upon myself to read past articles and create notes about the recreation district creation race, talk to locals about the issue, and get a hold of the person who is behind the measure.
I called the person behind the issue and had a wonderful conversation for about an hour. She shared with me her concerns, telling me that it was too early at the time to write about the upcoming election, specifically the recreational district. I was turned away and told not to publish anything about it. I of course was discouraged but I knew that I would be able to get something published about it!
For the next few weeks, I researched different topics that were local political news and helped submit letters to the editor about local issues that Idahoans are facing on the ballot. After drafting multiple pieces, the election time came around.
I intensely watched the election results as they came in, a lot of the things I had written about in my letters to the editor were mentioned, but the most surprising thing of all was the recreation district of Shelley passed! I immediately reached out to my mentor and asked him if I should draft an article about it. He agreed and told me to contact the person that led this ballot initiative. I talked to Rory and got a statement from her and got a statement from the mayor of Shelley as well! I was then able to draft my article about the North End recreation district, and get it published!
Overview of experiences:
Overall, the experiences I had while interning with the Shelley community pioneer will forever impact me. My attitude and opinion of journalism has changed significantly, and I am grateful for the experiences that I had. Contributing to the community was something that I enjoyed. It was nice being able to talk to individuals who I would not have talked to in my personal life. It was also nice being able to have educated conversations about a political issue, something that often is put on the back burner!