A few weeks ago, one of my hometown friends told me something to the effect of, “I can’t imagine doing what you’re doing this summer” (i.e., interning at the Door County Advocate) “and enjoying it.”
His words surprised me, but perhaps they shouldn’t have. Door County is known as a vacation destination, not as a site for internships. Most people come here to relax, not to work. And, because of the Peninsula’s relatively small population, there’s not a lot of serious crime, celebrity gossip or political turmoil — the stuff of today’s “hard news.”
So, perhaps my friend assumed that, since I was working on “soft” news stories in a place known for relaxing, I wouldn’t enjoy my internship. Maybe he thought I envied journalism students who break hard news stories in major cities, or that I envied the vacationers who come to Door County without having to work at all.
Well, if that was the case, my friend was wrong. I didn’t envy those people at all. In fact, if there must be envy, journalism students and vacationers should envy me. Here’s why:
Nearly every day of my internship, I woke up early and drove from Egg Harbor to Sturgeon Bay, singing along to my favorite music as familiar-faced shipbuilders and runners waved to me. At noon, I ate lunch in the sun on a bench overlooking the Sturgeon Bay canal, watching as boats passed under the Michigan Street drawbridge. And, at the end of the workday, I drove through green cornfields and orchards of ripening cherries to a peaceful house and a leisurely summer evening.
Nearly every day of my internship, I talked with people who gave me a behind-the-scenes look at my favorite place in the world. They told me about their lives, gave me their opinions, and spoke honestly and openly. They patiently answered my many questions about minutiae and gently corrected my mistakes. And, they let me use their words and photos in my stories.
And every day of my internship, I worked in an office full of people who welcomed, guided and supported me as I learned to report and write like a real journalist. They answered my ceaseless questions about, well, everything; they commiserated with me over Associated Press style in general and apostrophes in particular; they gave me opportunities for front-page articles (and a gift certificate for a goldfish, inspired by #KateTheIntern’s struggles at the Door County Fair). For all this and much more, I am very, very grateful to Warren Bluhm, Samantha Hernandez, Ramelle Bintz and the rest of the Advocate’s editorial, sales and managerial staff.
So, thank you, Door County. As I told my disbelieving friend (and many other people, too), I can’t imagine a better place to have had a summer journalism internship.
Kate Stein spent 10 weeks on the Door County Advocate staff on an intern partly funded by the Wisconsin Newspaper Associated Foundation. Contact her via advocate@doorcounty advocate.com.