Chilton County a great place to learn the “write” stuff

Published 2:06 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When I first began searching for places to do an internship, I knew that I wanted to work for a small-town paper. I think the inner Kerouac in me wanted to see that Americana was still alive and kicking. I wanted to go to a place that I could really get to see human interest stories up close and personal.

Well, that, and I knew I didn’t want to be a coffee boy for a hotshot reporter at a big paper. I wanted to learn about journalism, not the proper sugar-to-cream ratio for an entire sports department.

After a little guidance from Ms. Cynthia Shackleford, the wonderful public relations coordinator at the University of Montevallo (to whom I’d like to wish a “get well soon”), I set out to try and get an internship at The Clanton Advertiser. She informed me that there would be no better place to begin in journalism than in Chilton County.

I’ll admit, I was nervous. I’m from Montgomery, so while I’m not from a huge city, I’m not exactly a big expert on small-town life either. I wasn’t sure if people would take kindly to me or not. But still, I knew Ms. Shackleford had a lot of experience in journalism, and I knew she wouldn’t steer me wrong.

Everything she told me was spot on.

Since I began writing for the Advertiser in January, I have had nothing but fun. I’ve covered a lot of different things, some sweet, some sad, some funny, and others just downright zany. But I’ve had fun, and it’s been a great place to start a career. I’m pretty sure I find a slice of Americana every day here. Whether it’s an old barbecue shack tucked on a county road somewhere, a church with witty proverbs on its marquee, or kids playing baseball in their front yards, it can be found here. It’s cool to see those things still exist, and places like Chilton County do exist.

I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, too. I have yet (knock on wood) to interview anyone who has been anything less than accommodating and cordial. I have also (again, knocking on wood) not had anyone rip my head off for a misspelled name, silly question, or anything that a rookie journalist might do.

I was pretty excited when I was asked to come back for this summer. I’ve heard great things about that Peach Festival. I want to see it first hand.

I guess the whole point I’m trying to get to is that as a young journalist, I am having a blast being here writing some of the human interest stories I do. I don’t know how long I’ll be around these parts, but I plan to enjoy the time I do have because from where I’m sitting, Chilton County is a pretty cool place for a 22-year-old learning the ropes of journalism.