My Internship Begins in a Dying Field

I really felt this blog post was necessary, but since it is a somewhat sad topic, I decided to flavor it with pictures of puppies from a 4H fair that I did last week. Enjoy.

As you may know, I started an internship recently with The Sun News in Gladstone, Missouri. The Sun News covers Northland news and events around Kansas City and has three weekly newspapers, The Smithville Herald, The Kearney Courier and The Liberty Tribune.

When I walked into the newsroom, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the first day of my internship, however, I knew something was wrong.

I have worked for the Sun News in the past. I've done some freelance work for them out of Columbia, and also picked up a few assignments while I was home last summer. So, I've been in that office. And last summer, there were a lot more cubicles.

Since I last visited the Gladstone office, The Sun News has lost two of its weeklies, The Sun Tribune and The Sun News. And with those weeklies, a lot of their staff has disappeared.

Currently, there is one staff photographer for The Sun News. His name is Matt Frye, and he is also the photo editor. Together, Frye and I take pictures for all three weeklies. Although they aren't dailies, this still entails a whole lotta work and not a whole lotta sleep.

There are not many staffers at The Sun News. The editors double as writers, who also pitch, design, copy edit, design and produce the paper. There are three editor-in-chiefs, one for each publication, plus two interns, a managing editor, one staff writer, plus Frye and me. Before I came around, Frye did as many photographs as he could with the help other another intern, Kyle Revas. But when there's not an intern, writers take most of their photographs.

Coming to The Sun News was really a shocker to me. The financial situation the paper group is going through is really telling of the economic climate for newspapers these days. Also, the fact that staff members are doing multiple duties is a huge sign to journalism students that they need to be learning to do it all, especially if they want to be involved in a community newspaper setting in a failing community.

And I'm not the only one experiencing this. A recent J-school alum and former Maneater editor just had her paycheck from a Kansas-City based newspaper bounce. She's since filed her two weeks. However, others are having better luck, such as alum Roseann Moring, who just got hired on at the Springfield News Leader.

I've been working a lot at The Sun News. A lot of the work is event coverage that involves children, and a lot of environmental portraits. I'm just glad I'm making pictures, however, and am hoping to finish a story or two by the end of the summer.

Right now, Frye and managing editor Amy Neal tell me that with the three weeklies and current staff, the financial situation is stable and one of the papers is even making money. I will continue to share my experiences in this struggling field throughout the summer.

Photographs are copyright © Katie Currid, 2010, and may not be distributed or reproduced without permission.