Last Thursday, which was July 21, I was notified by Facebook that I had memories to look back on. As I clicked on the notification, as I do everyday, I was not expecting much, it is usually just past post, a picture or two and a friendship anniversary (which I still cannot figure out how to share anymore).
But I was pleasantly reminded, after I clicked on the link, that July 21 was my two-year anniversary of working at The Newberry Observer, thus being my two-year anniversary being a part of the Newberry community.
It’s amazing to think that I have worked in this county for two years. It feels like just yesterday I was writing my one year anniversary column. I have learned a great deal from working at this paper, and in this industry.
Not being from Newberry County, I did not know what to expect. Sure, I graduated from Newberry College, but I never really went out and about. I did not know all the amazing things this community had to offer. I didn’t know what a Chamber of Commerce was, or that they offer such detailed information on not only the businesses within the community, but the community itself.
I had no idea that there were so many community activities, like Pork in the Park or the occasional Elvis event. Working at The Newberry Observer has really opened my eyes to everything I missed while I was a student in college. That is something I am glad this job has brought me — a different view on a community that I spent four years in.
This job has brought me so many other opportunities. Thanks to the paper, I was introduced to Danielle Rowe, the district coordinator for the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District. Funny story: the two of us actually started our jobs around the same time and she was my first feature profile for the paper.
Ever since then, we have been working together on a lot, and I do mean a lot, of stories involving the Conservation District and Keep Newberry County Beautiful. Danielle has not only helped me with my job, but she has also taught me a lot about recycling, gardens and charitable programs. I am pretty sure she is one of the most hard working people in this community. She is rarely not working on a new program or project to bring to Newberry County.
This job has also allowed me to get my name out there in the world. Some of my articles have appeared in other papers. Not to mention, I have been able to meet presidential candidates, senators, governors and best selling authors.
Working at The Newberry Observer has also been a learning experience. It has definitely been a continuation of school. I joked with my editor the other day, saying “I just realized I picked a job where I have homework.”
Every edition of the paper brings me knowledge in some subject. I have expanded my knowledge of history through my articles about historic markers or historic events. Religious study has continued for me with articles on churches, and religious holidays. I have increased my knowledge in math and accounting after doing many stories on budgets and tax mills.
Everyone I have interviewed has been like a teacher. Not only are they answering my questions, but they are also guiding me and teaching me in their subjects. For example, I still remember the first time I did a story on tax mills for Newberry County. This was how I met the Newberry County auditor, Donna Lominack, who stayed on the phone with me for about an hour explaining the whole process, and answering many of my questions.
Working at The Newberry Observer has also expanded my writing ability. When I first came to work here, I was worried I would never write stories long enough for the paper, and now it seems I am working to try and cut them down so they will fit in the paper.
With that knowledge comes thanks to two people in particular, Elyssa (Parnell) Haven and Patricia Edwards. Elyssa helped me a great deal when I first started working here. She guided me with some questions to ask and the best type of photos to take. Without her being a mentor to me for that first year, I do not know how I would have grown as a writer.
Patricia has also done a great deal. She has taught me a lot about journalism and the industry, and ways to be a better writer. Thanks to her I have the freedom to come up with new and creative stories that others may not think of. She has also been able to teach me how to expand on my work. I’ve learned to take a story from different angles that I never thought of before.
To this day I thank Patricia for taking a chance on me and hiring me. I know I was not as experienced as most, but thanks to her taking that chance, I have gained that very experience.
Andrew Wigger is a staff writer for The Newberry Observer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.