The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Ian Smay
The Times 

Guest Column: Ian Smay


August 10, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Ian Smay

My second go-around with a small-town newspaper was just as sweet as the first time

Last summer, I held my first job in the field of journalism when I became a summer intern as a writer/reporter (and weekly storefront delivery boy) for the The Times while I was home after my freshman year at Washington State University.

Due to a change in internship plans, I found myself asking Ken Graham if I could have my position back for one last (planned) summer writing for him. Luckily, he and Dena Martin welcomed me back with open arms.

Before I go much deeper into my experiences reporting over the last two summers, I want to talk about my time at WSU. I completed my second full year in Pullman, where I am majoring in Journalism & Media Production, in which I am specializing in Broadcast News (anchoring). I am also minoring in Criminal Justice, as I plan on attending law school after I complete my undergraduate studies, where I plan on specializing in either corporate or sports law.

The last two years have been truly incredible, and has made apparent why the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication has been ranked consistently in the top five (and many think it deserves to be in the discussion for the best) for undergraduate journalism schools. The staff and faculty are world-class, and the level of education I have received thus far has been exceptional to say the least.

While meeting with my advisor over the last semester (and sadly, her last semester before she left for a new job), I found out that due to the credits I had entered college with that I can graduate a semester early if I continue to do well and take on a good amount of credits each semester. This would push me up to the Class of 2018, where I would graduate in the winter commencement, instead of the Class of 2019 like I had originally planned.

I have enjoyed my time at WSU immensely, but there is one thing left that I am looking forward to a little bit more than the rest. Part of the curriculum for my major is a semester-long course where a group of Murrow broadcasting students pairs up with a group of production students to produce the nightly news during the week for a local outlet. The newscast is produced and anchored almost completely by students, with guidance and oversight from professors. This will be my first experience being a news anchor, and I cannot wait to be in front of the camera!

Now, let's move back to talking about my last three months with the Times. Coming in to this summer, I had the benefit of not being as nervous as I was when I first started last summer. I had experience under my belt, and the classes I had been taking involved an extraordinary amount of writing, so it felt like I was just taking a lighter course load than what I had been doing for the last nine months.

But, unlike class, I was back home, once again writing about the place where I had grown up. For the last three months, I have covered a variety of events, from school board meetings, to a horse clinic. I spoke with the creator of a hiking trail, and then hiked the trail on my lunch break from the Dayton City Pool to get photos of the amazing views of Dayton from the top of the path.

Between the last three months and the previous summer, I have spoken with many people that I would likely never have met if not for my job. Almost all of these people have been kind and more than happy to speak with me, which makes the job even more amazing. Ken gave me a little more freedom this summer, although he still did give me story ideas and was already pretty laid back with what I wrote my weekly articles on.

Not to go back to speaking about my education (which likely isn't the most interesting thing to a lot of people), but one thing that stood out to me this last year at WSU was how interested my professors were with my work. Almost all of my journalism or reporting professors gave their students questionnaires on the first day, and one of them was what we did last summer. After I wrote that I had been a reporter with The Times, they all went back and read some of the articles I had penned over the summer. Many of them then asked me about my experiences, and complimented my work. It is a great feeling when people that you look up to, journalists that were members of the industry you wish to join for over two decades, speak highly of your work.

However, they were not the only ones. I want to thank all the community members that praised my writing over this summer and the one before, as it means more than you know. Most people that know me most likely remember me from my high school days, as I have been in Pullman most of the time since graduation. While I was confident then, maybe overly so (most people would likely say I was cocky, to which I won't argue), writing is the one place where I feel vulnerable. Your compliments meant the world to me, and help me get along when things are not going great.

I would also like to thank Ken Graham, for giving me a shot last summer and helping me smooth out the bumps in my work. None of this would have been possible without him hiring me as an intern with only one year of journalism school under his belt. Dena Martin also deserves recognition, as I spent a lot of time with her in the office last summer, and she had to edit my (not always grammatically sound) articles.

Before I go back to school, I want to leave all The Times readers with the words of my journalistic hero Edward R. Murrow, which I hope you keep in mind when times get tough, or when the news isn't the most cheerful.

Good night, and good luck.


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