My internship experience

Published 6:22 pm Friday, August 4, 2023

By: Tiffany Albritton-Hickman

As an English and communications major, my desire has always been to do what simply cannot be done – to understand people, to empathize with them, and to show compassion as we all journey through life. 

I can put the songs of my heart into words as a writer. Sometimes the genre is blues, sometimes it’s gospel, sometimes it may be visions or perspective, but it is always my reality. 

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But as a journalist, not so much.

What I dreamed of doing, ever since I was a Greenville High School student, became a reality for me this year – I became a published writer.

I was so excited to be granted the opportunity to intern in my hometown, as a general assignment reporter. My very first assignment was to attend and cover a Law Enforcement Ceremony and I was so excited. The community and local officials came together under one roof, to give reverence to the people that protect and serve the place we call home. 

The most impactful part of the program for me was Fort Dale’s children’s choir’s rendition of “God Bless America.” In that room, I felt something that seemed to have been lost over time, a patriotic sense of pride that had almost been depleted. 

The song took me back to Mrs. Norman’s second grade class at W.O. Parmer in 1986, when I had no idea that I was considered a minority and my mind began to wonder, “Is this what is really meant when we hear the slogan ‘Make America Great Again?’” 

The nostalgia of peace overtook me as I considered, “Was [this written] in a time when we collectively pursued the American dream? What happened to that dream? Is it possible for the dream to be realized, again?

Greenville is not ‘Mayberry.’ The city’s population is approximately 60% African American, but that is not reflected by leadership in our school systems or economic structures. As a reporter for our small-town newspaper, I have realized the lack of resources and opportunities for black children in this town. Not all will become star athletes. What will become of the majority of these children?

I made a new friend as an intern quite by chance as I was conducting an interview about an important newsworthy topic. The nice white lady kept saying the word ‘minorities’ and I just had to stop her. I told her, “Just say black. I’m black. I’m not a minority.” She was grateful, and sincere with my reproach. Conversations like these must be had for assimilation and equalization of culture. Being a minority is a state of mind that has to be unlearned.

Sunday morning is said to be the most segregated day of the week and that is absolutely true. We have to be honest with ourselves, about who Jesus is, and what He came to do. We can tell by the signs of the times, that God is still not pleased with our lack of love for one another.

Needless to say, I have met some great people in corners of my town that I didn’t know existed, while simultaneously reading “Winesburg,Ohio” by Sherwood Anderson. It is a book about a young reporter and the lives of the people in the small town. The book does a great job of giving the backstory of the town’s inhabitants and explains that sometimes we have to get to the root of why people do the things they do. 

Just like in that book, I have encountered figures who represent the “mother,” the “teacher,” the “philosopher,” the “thinker,” and all kinds of other people. As a reporter, I let the people tell their story, to empathize and report accurate information. In the end, the reporter from Winesburg, leaves the small town to pursue his big city dreams, and maybe one day I will do that too.

I have learned one thing for sure during this journey – I am not a sports reporter. While I have enjoyed interviewing coaches and players, stats are not my thing. I have realized my passion for social and entertainment news reporting. I also enjoyed covering school board meetings and city council meetings, because those are of interest to me. Though these meetings are open to the public, the public does not usually attend. As a parent, and a professional, these public forums are informative, and the decisions being made directly impact our family life. The best reporter will excel in their area of enlightenment, interests, and expertise. 

The majority of the people in Greenville feel like they don’t have a voice. They feel like nothing will ever change. And it is true, nothing will change, until we change – you and I. I pray we all start to get to know our neighbors again, and to help those we can, when we can. As the new school year approaches, let’s continue to remind ourselves and our children that different does not mean less, and continue to grow together as a community.

Thank you, Greenville Newspapers, for the opportunity to be a journalist intern.