By Dave Kurtz
Our company is blessed this summer with two promising interns eager to learn the craft of journalism.
It’s only fair that I’m supervising them. It’s my way of paying back, because an internship is how I wound up here.
One of this year’s interns, Kate Stoltzfus, is studying journalism at a small Christian college (Goshen College, in her hometown) and working this summer in the News Sun office.
Stoltzfus, who will be a senior in the fall, comes to us courtesy of the HSPA Foundation’s Eugene S. Pulliam Internship Program.
Our other intern, Meredith Kreigh, also is studying journalism at a small Christian college in Tennessee. She’s helping us at The Star office in her hometown of Auburn.
If it sounds like we’re in a pattern, that’s only half the story. Last year’s intern, Michael Haynes, was studying journalism at another small Christian college, Anderson. Since then, he’s graduated and landed a job at the Anderson newspaper.
To top it off, one of our newest staff members, Octavia Lehman, studied journalism at – you guessed it – a small Christian college. She grew up in LaGrange, attended Grace College and now works chiefly at The Star office.
A couple of decades ago, when I had to go begging for reporter applicants, I didn’t think of looking at small Christian colleges. These days, those schools are sending us a fine crop of young reporters.
What’s most encouraging is finding students and new graduates who still see journalism as a worthy career in spite of a recent news item rating newspaper reporter as the worst job in America.
I appreciate my own internship with KPC Media Group, which lasted three summers.
I ignored the obvious message when, early in my first year, I arrived at work to find medics carrying my supervisor out of the newsroom on a stretcher.
She had collapsed, apparently from stress and exhaustion.
The departure of our leader threw me into a baptism by fire. Instead of handling the usual intern assignments, I wound up covering big stories all summer.
By my third year as an intern, KPC had acquired The Evening Star, and I spent the summer working in Auburn. I never suspected that I would move to the Classic City three years later and spend the rest of my life here.
My career plan back then involved working my way up to a Chicago, New York or Washington paper. If I’d done that, I’d probably be laid off by now, or at least pushed to retire early.
Who knew, back then, that when the 21st century arrived, small community newspapers would be thriving much better than the big-city dailies?
Prophets of doom for journalism are nothing new.
Forty years ago, people were predicting that the arrival of cable television would kill newspapers. Instead, the printed page has managed to survive all the way to the twilight of my career.
I hope the future will stay bright for the young people who are populating our newsrooms this summer.
The way they deliver the news may change, but the nation needs journalists in one form or another – hardworking reporters, not ego-driven, opinionated blowhards.
I came into journalism during its heyday of the early 1970s, when Walter Cronkite and Woodward and Bernstein ranked as national heroes.
All that individual stardom may have started us on a path to squandering the high opinion of our profession. We need to focus on humble pursuit of the truth.
It’s not hard to be humble as a reporter now, but that could be the first step in a comeback for journalists.
I’d like to see our young journalists stick with the craft long enough to see a revival.
Dave Kurtz is executive editor for KPC Media Group, based in Kendallville.