I didn’t always want to be a journalist. I went through phases growing up, as every kid does, where what I wanted to be when I grew up changed constantly. I went from wanting to be The Crocodile Hunter, to a pilot, to a lawyer and all kinds of things in between.
However, the older I got, I started figuring out that I had somewhat of a talent for writing. More important than any sort of talent for it was that I loved to write. I use writing as a sort of therapy for myself. It’s a way for me to tell my story and get my thoughts out in a way that is much easier for me than speaking.
Eventually I started to think, why stop at telling my story? Why can’t I tell other people’s stories? That’s what led me to journalism.
I was introduced to the idea of writing for Clay Today because I needed an internship in order to graduate from UNF this fall. Many of the internships that are approved by UNF are broadcast or radio focused, but I wanted to write. I can say without a doubt that being accepted as a summer intern for Clay Today was the best thing that could have happened for me.
I walked in on my first day expecting to write a small feature story or some other piece to “get my feet wet.” Instead, less than an hour after walking in the door, I found myself sitting in a courtroom taking notes on a trial of a man charged with attempted murder on two police officers. Instead of getting my feet wet, I’d been thrown in head first. But that turned out to be just what I needed. That’s how journalism works. You have to be able to adapt quickly and handle things you may have never handled before.
As someone who spent my junior high and high school years in Clay County, I’d forgotten just how small of a community it truly was. Living in Duval had given me a different perspective on how things are in Jacksonville overall. Interning at Clay Today allowed me to regain that old perspective while also opening my eyes to things I didn’t pay much attention to growing up.
During my time at Clay Today I wrote all kinds of stories. I wrote about the attempted murder trial of two police officers, the Clay Humane donating masks to Clay County Fire Rescue, a father and son opening a pet supply store, the new monarch butterfly waystation, three exceptional sisters and more. Every story I wrote was something different and gave me the opportunity to learn.
Something else I will take away from my internship is the attitude that a lot of people seem to have towards journalists. It’s one thing to hear the term “fake news” or to see it on social media, it’s another to have it said to your face when you introduce yourself as a reporter. I didn’t get into journalism for the money or to be popular, I don’t think any journalist does. But it is a little off-putting to see people’s attitude change towards you as soon as they find out your profession. We’re people just like you, just doing our jobs and trying to keep people informed on what they want and need to know.
The positives far outweighed everything else during my internship and I met a lot of great Clay County residents with some incredible stories to tell.
I became a better journalist during my time at Clay Today, and maybe more importantly (to me at least) I became a better writer.
My desire and resolve to be a journalist has only grown over the past few months. My passion for telling people’s stories grows by the day. I’m grateful to everyone at Clay Today for helping in my journey and I can’t wait to see where my next path takes me.