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Intern reflects on time at TSN

By HANNAH GUNNELL

hgunnell@shelbynews.com

My editor wants me to talk about the things I’ve learned in my ten weeks as an intern at The Shelbyville News, but I would rather talk about the way this community impacted me.

I am not from a small town like Shelbyville. I grew up in Indianapolis, where nobody knows each other. Here, this town is so knit together that when I told David Finkel I was a metalhead, he went and told the mayor, and city councilman Rob Nolley, and the entire Board of Works. I love that.

I grew up in a place where when I wrote an article about a local business, they didn’t frame it and put it on display, like the Cow Palace did. That made my heart happy.

I grew up in a place where I didn’t have to attend government meetings and when I did they were dull. Shelbyville government meetings are not boring, which is why I was always eager to write them. It became my beat.

I started every Monday by covering the Shelby County Commissioners meetings (usually before having something with caffeine), and those three commissioners are so entertaining that I never fell back asleep.

I started Tuesday mornings by covering the Board of Works, and they also throw out funny and sarcastic banter that the city attorney asked me not to publish.

Both meetings showcased not only an efficient working unit but also the friendship shared between the people involved. Personally, I think the good relations between those involved, even when their political views differ, are what makes the government here work well.

I grew up in a place where interviews with important people didn’t include casual conversation, and it was straight and to the point. But the casual conversation – like what metal bands I listen to or anything about Ball State (because there are a few alumni here) – are where I formed bonds with officials and where they realized I am not your stereotypical reporter.

This community was quick to accept me as I am, which not only makes my job easier but much more enjoyable. I am sad to leave such a place where I am enabled to be not only successful, but happy.

I would also like to mention that I did not have a car this summer, and Shelbyville was more accessible for me than Muncie, because of its sidewalks. Props to whoever was responsible for that, because that also made my job easier.

So what have I learned?

Well, I learned a lot about how government works. The Shelbyville government appears to be on the more efficient side because there is a ton of communication between departments.

I also learned a lot about 4-H and livestock by covering the Shelby County Fair. I did not grow up in a farming town, so I literally learned a bunch about it from the kids involved. Also, covering Goat Olympics was probably one of my favorite stories, and I talk about it so much that ads for goats appear on my social media.

I learned a bit about how restaurants work and what makes them successful, and that Shelbyville has (or is going to have) a variety of different locally-owned places to eat.

I am bummed because I have to leave before I can try any of the restaurants on the circle, two because they aren’t open right now, and the other two because I am underage. I will be back at some point to try them all.

I learned that Shelbyville is full of kind people with good intentions, as shown by everyone who showed up for the Wilder Cancer Benefit last month, the new pastor at Grace Wesleyan Church, and an Allstate agent. If you want to know more, go read those stories I wrote at www.shelbynews.com (excuse the plug).

I learned that apparently you can hold exotic animals – twice. Those make for great pictures that get a ton of likes on social media. I learned the more likes on social media, the more people check out what I have to write. (The first time came when I held a 12-foot albino Burmese python at Taste of Shelby County and the second time I held a blue-gold macaw at TNT Exotics.)

I learned the definition of the word “bon vivant” and was challenged to use it in a news story when I go back to Ball State. This is a column, so it doesn’t count.

I learned that TSN is a safe place with a friendly staff that welcomed me right away and supports the style I write in, even when they tease me about the length of my articles. (Editor’s note: when you write a fully-detailed story and do not collect any photos to run with it, you are going to get the wrath of the staff)

I learned that Shelbyville is full of organizations that work to bring the community together: Events like Arts in the Park were fun to cover because I got to meet many kinds of people and write about their experiences.

And in the end, that’s all I am. I’m a storyteller. Thank you, Shelbyville, for letting me tell your stories.