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Small community is journalist's dream

By By Michale Hill
Advance Staff Writer
A couple of days ago Ryan Carter, the head honcho here at The Advance, nonchalantly said to me, "Michael, write a column introducing yourself to the community."
Now I don't have a social phobia or anything like that, but I was terrified about putting anything personal in print. Journalists write about others with reckless abandon, but few care to reveal anything about themselves in such a public forum .
At hearing my order, the column that began forming in my head read like an obituary: "Michael S. Hill, 25-year-old senior at Auburn University, journalism major, son of Michael and Marcy Hill of Dothan, Ala." I couldn't imagine any way to jazz it up. to make it sound interesting.
But after some reflection, I've come to the conclusion that a simple introduction doesn't need spicing up. After all, if you were looking for romance or intrigue, you would've bought the latest best sellers by Danielle Steele or John Grisham instead of The Atmore Advance.
So here goes nothing. My obit is accurate. I'm an over-aged senior at Auburn. (I think I qualify for a senior citizen's discount on my tuition next semester.) And part of the journalism curricula is an internship at a newspaper.
I was lucky enough to hear about an available internship here at The Advance through one of my professors in the department. He always keeps an ear to the wind for just such opportunities. And after a bit of haggling with Ryan about
whether I'd be working for peanuts or atta-boy's, here I am.
In class at Auburn, we discuss a lot of theory about the difference between daily and weekly newspapers, and whether they'll survive the threat the Internet poses to print media. And everyone agrees that while the future of dailies is debatable, community based weeklies, like The Advance, are insured against the Internet because of community coverage.
But I'm a child of technology, so of course I was skeptical about community involvement saving the weekly. Yet after being here only a week, I'm now a believer.
I've been out to the baseball and softball fields and I've seen what looked like all of Atmore there to watch their kids duke it out on the field, even in hot, rainy weather. I've been writing about these games since I first stepped through The Advance s front door.
And it's not like Ryan said, "Well, let's give the intern some busy work to keep him out of the way while we do the important stuff." No way. He told me up front how important local sports coverage was to this paper, and now I understand it.
Everybody likes to read about their kids in the paper. Parents love to put the clippings on the refrigerator with the banana magnet. My mom did it. In the attic she keeps manila envelopes bulging with yellowing clippings from yesteryear about her sons. Someday I'll be guilty, too.
Originally I believed I'd have a pretty easy time of it here in Atmore. A two-month vacation, really. But now I understand what we do here is important to a lot of people. And as a trainee awaiting my introduction to the real and uncertain world of journalism, it's nice to know some form of print media will suvive today's technology. So to you, Atmore, I say thank you, and keep up the good work, and keep the weeklies alive.