Getting by with help from my friends
Community journalism is unique. There are so many things about community newspaper work that collegiate curriculum just cannot cover.
There is no way anyone can prepare you for the high workload and small staffs that typically accompany small-town papers.
But the main thing no one can teach you is how to depend on other people.
You have to know what you can do and what just is not possible. In the nearly two-and-a-half years that I have been in Demopolis, my greatest achievements have all been the things I didn’t do.
Last year’s Gridiron magazine was great. That was Michael Clements on the photography and Jason Cannon on the design. Props to those guys.
This week’s pink magazine was our best yet. Again, that was Michael handling the cover with his wife, Laura, having done the hair and makeup of the depicted bride as well as contributing the quarterly food column. And, by the way, that level of contribution is not at all uncommon for them as Michael frequents The Times office almost as much as I do, and Laura is a weekly contributor to the Lifestyles page.
Then, there is Raycelia McIntyre down at Marengo Academy. I have been told by a handful of people that they really enjoy the way I cover Marengo Academy. But, the truth is, that is Raycelia McIntyre. She is at almost everything that boasts orange and white. And she makes sure that the photos and information get to where they need to go.
Alice Walker makes sure I know what is going on in the softball world in Demopolis. Jay Reynolds is usually on top of it in firing off an e-mail to let me know how local alums are doing in their sports at the next level. And Bill and Catherine Meador serve as a great hub of information for the Demopolis sports culture.
Now, I am taking my first extended period away from the office in two years.
An eight-day mission trip will have me out of the country until mid-July. And, in my absence, our intern, Josh Williams, will be trying to man the sports department. Josh just graduated from Demopolis High a little over a month ago, but has already displayed great potential in the journalism field. Sports will offer a new and unique challenge to him. But here’s the thing: He will welcome all of the help that he can get.
The fact is that a lot goes on in the Marengo County sports world. From high school athletics to youth sports to individual tasks like fishing, hunting and golfing, there is a lot to cover. But that creates plenty of opportunities for contributions from the community.
If you happen to get any pictures of your latest catch or of a local child making a catch or anything in between, now is the time to send them to Josh via e-mail at email@example.com or to bring them by our office at 315 East Jefferson St. Got a story idea? We’d love to hear it.
I’m confident that Josh will do a great job while I am gone. But the truth of community journalism is that, much like me, he will be a lot better at his responsibilities over the next few weeks if he can get by with a little help from his friends.
Jeremy D. Smith is the sports editor of The Demopolis Times.