What I learned writing for a community newspaper

By Matt Belinson

I had a blast in my summer internship at the Ottumwa Courier, and I learned so much along the way. This internship gave me the hands-on experience I was looking for by giving me the opportunity to cover high school sports all summer long. I wrote countless game coverage for prep sports in the Ottumwa area, covered the Iowa high school state baseball and softball tournaments, covered the first NASCAR dirt race in Knoxville, wrote in multiple special sections and so much more.

I’m grateful I received a generous scholarship to help me in this process and give me some added stability in my finances this summer. I learned that bringing a positive attitude to this internship made my experience that much better. My bosses in Ottumwa told me when I finished that they loved my energy and willingness to work on anything this summer. Positive attitudes and an open mind go a long way, and this summer internship taught me that. You have to be willing to open your comfort zone in this industry and allow yourself to grow.

My time in Ottumwa this summer gave me a chance to grow as a writer and gave me added confidence in what I’m capable of covering. I loved interviewing high school students, coaches and their parents because they are so genuine. I work in covering college athletics, and I could tell there was a big difference between the type of interviewing I could do in Ottumwa versus with media-trained student athletes at Iowa State. My internship in Ottumwa gave me a refreshing look on how to approach interviews and come up with new ways to keep the conversation going.

I’m so glad I had this opportunity in Ottumwa because I have learned so much from it. I would encourage any journalism major to find an internship that challenges you and puts you in a new environment. You’ll be better for it. My internship showed me that doing what you love while also learning new ways to be better can be so rewarding. Find new challenges, explore new stories and embrace the unknown. Trust me, it’s worth it.

I want to thank the Greenlee School of Journalism for giving me a scholarship this summer that made my work so much easier to handle and for supporting students like me along our way. Thank you again.

Editor’s note: Edited for length and clarity. Greenlee 499A internship scholarships support students who have a primary major in advertising, journalism and mass communication or public relations and are completing their required 400-hour internships. The application is available each spring.