If you told me a year ago that I’d be working for a newspaper in West Virginia, I probably would have cackled. Last year I was on the track to work in broadcast journalism as a producer or a radio reporter. I already had casual job offers at a few TV stations throughout Florida.
When I graduated college I had no idea what I was going to do. The answer I gave people changed often - public radio producing, digital reporting and producing for TV stations, MMJ-ing for newspapers, or even just pursuing a career in social media. I said I’d decide after News21. By then I’d know what I wanted to do, right?
Wrong. After 10 weeks in Phoenix, I was more confused about my future than ever. More opportunities were in front of me than ever. I applied for almost 200 jobs, and waited. I interviewed with some of them. After years of people telling me I was talented, people were telling me that I just wasn’t ready. In their defense, I wasn’t ready for a lot of the jobs I interviewed for. Don’t ask me why they even called me. The word potential was thrown around a lot. So was the phrase “call us in a year or two.”
By the end of September, I was slowly losing my mind. I was a finalist for a lot of killer positions, but then I’d lose out on them to more experienced reporters or Ivy League grads.
I won’t go to in depth into my interviewing process with the Gazette-Mail, but for the first time I felt almost confident. I was passionate about the stories they were doing, and interested in the changing nature of West Virginia. A good friend had also recently accepted a job there, so that was another plus.
But there were also negatives. Would I be able to handle life in West Virginia? How would I adjust to going back into the newspaper industry after being gone for almost 3 years? Would the staff take a 22-year-old Floridian with a broadcast journalism degree seriously?
When I was offered the job, I quickly accepted and hoped for the best. I bought a new car, started looking for apartments and sweaters, and did a lot of panicking
The transition has gone far better than expected. Yes, I check my AP Stylebook more than I should (it’s been a while, y’all.) I’m still writing notes during interviews slower than I expected. I’m adjusting to this whole “inches” thing, too.
A couple of my stories gained a lot of traction this week, as a lot of you may know. I’m not addressing it much further - if you want to read them, I have the first linked here. The interview requests poured in, as did congratulations from the same recruiters who rejected me from jobs a few weeks prior. Calls and emails came in from all over the world. It was my 7th day at the paper, and I was just as shocked as you might expect.
For the first time in a while, I can say that I really believe good things are ahead. West Virginia as a whole has been so kind, loving, and accepting. I’ve hugged way more people than I ever expected, and most of you know I’m not a big hugger. I’m starting to get the hang of things.
Will I still freak out during my first snowy winter? Probably, and I accept the fact that all of my editors will tease me mercilessly during it. Will I still occasionally look dumbfounded when someone asks me if I know my way to an assignment? Yes, and I know Google Maps will be my friend for a while. Will I eventually know all the words to Take Me Home, Country Roads? I have the first verse and the chorus down at least.
How long will I stay here? Will I continue to work in print? When will I finally get to eat a chicken tender Pub Sub again? I can’t answer those questions yet. But I’ll let you know when I can.
Multiplatform journalist. University of Florida Grad. Last seen at News21 and WUFT News.
"Good news is rare these days, and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished and hoarded and worshipped and fondled like a priceless diamond."