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Community journalism is a passion

It’s not every day that I find myself on the flipside of an interview. But that is exactly where I was last week when I sat down with a local college student who is aspiring to be a journalist.

Usually the one asking the questions, I admit I was unsure what to do with my hands, which are normally moving a mile a minute to keep pace with the words coming from my interviewee’s mouth. Several times I found myself unconsciously reaching for my trusty pen.

But her questions were thought-provoking.

How did you get into the newspaper industry?

I started at the very bottom with a newspaper delivery route of about 75 homes when I was 12. Not only did delivering newspapers teach me to be reliable, but I also got to meet our neighbors, who I realized all had a story to tell. I knew then I wanted to be the one to tell those stories, not the one tossing them on porches.

What’s the best part of your job?

Every single day is different. Each morning when I walk into the newsroom I don’t know what the day will bring and I love that. This isn’t a 9-to-5 career. News happens 24 hours a day. Being a journalist won’t make you monetarily rich. You must have a passion for both journalism and the community, which is something you can’t fake.

What is the worst part of your job?

As a small-town newspaper, we cover everything from late-night city commission meetings to weekend festivals. The most difficult assignments are usually emergencies — car crashes and fires. Seeing people in those situations is hard and those moments stick with you.

What motivates you?

We have a duty to provide our readers with accurate, objective news coverage of our community. We take our role as local government watchdog seriously, as well. Unlike the medical or law profession, journalists don’t take an oath, but we do adhere to a code of ethics that includes presenting both sides of the story in a fair, neutral manner.

What’s the best advice you have received?

Growing up, I participated in a lot of sports and in an effort to keep me humble (especially if I won), my dad would always tell me, “You are only as good as your next game.” I have a Post-it stuck to my computer monitor at work that simply reads, “You are only as good as your next edition.”

Editor's Note: Chanda Veno is managing editor of The State Journal in Frankfort.