My summer at the Reader

By McCalee Cain
Reader Intern / Cedar Post Editor in Chief

This summer at the Reader, I learned many technical lessons — the proper AP formatting of numbers and dates, the ins and outs of Adobe Contribute, how to interview someone via phone with minimal stuttering and awkward pauses, etc. — but ultimately, my most valuable and significant takeaways were a lot less methodological and more generally applicable to life.

Watching Ben and company put their heads together to solve problems week after week to put out the Reader that the community knows and loves was a great demonstration of leadership and collaboration in the newsroom that I hope to convey back to the Cedar Post staff this year.

McCalee Cain rides on the Bonner County Sheriff Marine boat during a story for the Reader. Photo by Lyndsie Kiebert.

My time at the Reader and Keokee was a delectable taste of what working as a reporter could actually be like for me in the future, and a crash course in getting paid to do something I actually liked and was interested in. Having tried on the role of a reporter for the summer, I’m more invigorated in my identity as a journalist, and more confident in my writing and multimedia production abilities.

Balancing my internship on top of Cedar Post and my other two jobs was a great opportunity to exercise my adult-ing muscles, and get a clearer sense of who I am as a reporter and as an employee.

In addition to being an incredible learning experience, my internship was enjoyable to boot. Working with and getting to know Ben, Cameron and Lyndsie (and, of course, all the folks over at Keokee) was truly a joy.

And they sure got to know me, as well: Ben, like a veteran birdwatcher, eventually became attuned to the different meanings of my varying moans and groans, and by my last week, could distinguish them by sound. Once, in a the fog of a particularly stubborn bout of writer’s block, I let out my can’t-write-this-boring-story-because-I-can’t-focus groan, to which he replied, “Let me guess, you don’t like this story?”

My time at the Reader went by in a whirlwind, but luckily, thanks to Lyndsie’s clever Twitter documentation and the magic of the world wide web, the witty (and often, endearingly absurd) banter of the office during my stay can live on forever.

Looking forward to this year as Cedar Post’s editor in chief, I’m absolutely ecstatic, though a bit terrified at the same time. I can’t wait to share all I’ve learned about journalism, but mostly about collaboration and passion for what you do. I think in the end, that’s the greatest lesson I will leave this summer with: Being passionate about what you do can turn an alternative-weekly newspaper’s shabby office into a truly special place (at least, for the sentimental part-time intern at her rolly-desk).

I am endlessly thankful to everyone at Keokee and at the Reader that took me on this summer. This summer was a pivotal time for me as a budding reporter and student, and I am deeply appreciative to Chris Bessler and everyone else I worked with for the opportunity to grow.

The only drawback? I’ve unintentionally trained myself like Pavlov’s dog to require a bagel to write anything. I’d say that’s the only consequence that resulted from this impactful summer at the Reader.

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