On to the next

After a week of wonderfully unplugged vacation and time with family and loved ones, it’s time to move on to the next one.

I’ve wrapped up my tenure as a higher education reporter at the Columbia Missourian after two great semesters with two great groups of reporters and my editor Liz Brixey, and now I’m headed east.

This summer I’ll be working in Ellsworth, Maine, at The Ellsworth American. I joke that it’s the Park City, Utah, (where I spent the summer after my freshman year) of the east and I couldn’t be more excited to get out there.

Maine will be a different kind of gig for me after two semesters of grinding out reporting and classes simultaneously. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun, I’ve done some very cool things and in the fall I get to return to the Missourian as an Assistant City Editor.

For now, though, it’s off to Maine which is one helluva drive. Such a drive, in fact, that I’ll be blogging the trip for The American and tweeting along the way. The first leg of the drive — and the first post — start first thing Thursday morning.

Follow the trip on this website and on Twitter at @zach_murdock.

For The Record

Before I ever even set foot in the J-School, I made a promise that I would find a way to work in the industry the summer after my freshman year. Whether it would be an official internship or not, I was determined to leave my grocery store gig behind for something a little more career-oriented.

I got that opportunity from Nan Chalat-Noaker and The Park Record in Park City, Utah. For two months I lived in Park City and had the opportunity to work as a part-time intern while taking online classes. Initially I worked as a regular news reporter—I got to go to pitch meetings, cover local issues and events and sit with editors on production days.

A few weeks into the internship, Nan approached me about writing a special feature about local high school students choosing to enlist in the military instead of enrolling in college. “In the line of service” went on to be one of my favorite pieces of the summer and was featured on the front page of The Record’s 4th of July edition.

Following that piece, Nan asked me to step up and serve as a substitute editor for Andrew Kirk, editor of The Record’s Business section (because even editors need vacation). As a substitute I had to work under the same deadlines and pressures Andrew works with every production cycle. I was responsible for pitching my own content, setting up and conducting my own interviews, writing my own stories, collaborating with photographers, editing and laying out content, proofing the section’s pages and preparing the content to be uploaded online—all on a professional deadline.

I had the opportunity to serve as a substitute again for The Record’s City Beat section a week later, taking on similar responsibilities and challenges. Just hours before production on Friday an important front page story dropped and we were forced to scramble to find a replacement. The resulting story was the most interesting of the summer: a construction update.

The idea was to get an update on the construction of the intersection outside The Record’s office, but it turned into a light-hearted piece about the effects the construction has on business and the personalities of the construction workers. Read it here: “Drivers see orange.”

In the end, my experience in Park City was an amazing foundation to my personal and professional lives. Park City is such a beautiful place with such wonderful people, and whether it’s to return to The Record or not, I hope to go back someday.