Recorder’s intern shares her experience: ‘They were there to share and all I needed to do was listen’

  • GODFREY

For the Recorder
Published: 1/8/2021 5:18:22 PM
Modified: 1/8/2021 5:18:07 PM

A few years ago I wrote a My Turn discussing the importance of a local news channel in rural northern India. I had worked with the journalist who could pressure the local government into giving a village electricity or a well through running a story.

But I don’t believe I fully understood what I was saying or the true importance of reliable local news until I interned at the Greenfield Recorder this fall. A reminder about how wonderful this community we live in truly is came with the experience, too.

I started my first day of the four-month internship by shadowing Reporter Mary Byrne. I arrived jittery and left with pages of notes — or at least that’s what I believed before opening my notebook to illegible scribbles. I had no clue how to write an article, was a slow note taker and found silence in conversations very uncomfortable.

When I was assigned my first story, I searched online “how to write an article” and “how to do a good interview.” Nervous about getting quotes during my first interview, I had forgotten what questions I had asked and most of what the responses were after about five minutes in. I told myself that like the first pancake, one’s first interview as a journalist surely never turns out well. And so I tried again with “listen” and “stop talking” written on a yellow sticky note beside my computer.

And it got better. It got better when I realized everything I needed would be right there with the person I was talking to. They were there to share and all I needed to do was listen. I let the people of Franklin County teach me how to have a good conversation.

The people I spoke to were for the most part friendly and interested, passionate about their work and about getting their voices heard. Sometimes I would make a call at the end of the day for a clarification or brief statement and would stay on the line for an hour hearing about a project.

I talked to artists, apple-pickers, orchardists and cider makers. I heard from elected officials, firemen, librarians, chefs and activists. I felt honored and curious to hear from them in a time of immense change, about the diverse difficulties that come with the pandemic and their immensely creative responses. There are endless things to learn from our neighbors right here in Franklin County, something I quickly realized after a bit of listening and reading.

Working at the Recorder brought me closer to this area than I have ever been, during a pandemic nonetheless. While hearing national news is an important part of my day, reading the Recorder has been equally if not more so recently. Through covering a story about a fundraiser, the Recorder helps to pay medical bills or save a business. It is news that directly affects my life, from the art and nature I surround myself with, to the town meetings I participate in, and the people and policies I vote for.

I can say with confidence that I am a more active citizen than I was four months ago. I better understand the land I live on and have been reminded of the many types of diversity that exist within even my own small town of Shelburne Falls.

So thank you to the hard-working folks at the Recorder and thank you to the residents of Franklin County. Thank you for your perseverance through these times — you inspire me. Thank you for your patience and generosity. You have made me a better neighbor.

Talia Godfrey will begin her freshman year at New York University this January in the liberal studies program. Although she is undecided on her major, she is looking forward to pursuing journalism in and out of the classroom.

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