Whenever I read stories about corporate media insisting they have no money to pay their hard working interns (such as Derek Finkle’s recent excellent post) I think back to my first job at a local small town newspaper.

It was a sweltering, stinking summer. I was just a teenager in high school but I wanted to be a professional writer. That meant getting in print and being paid for the privilege. I had tried all the major outlets. Nobody was hiring. Then a very wise teacher suggested I find the smallest media outlet I could and approach them.

And so I did.

It was pretty much a one-man operation, a free independent local weekly erratically distributed to area shops and selected street corners. It rarely had more than a dozen pages (and often less). Even at that tender age, however, I could tell that it had that indefinable asset known as “heart”. It took on local causes. It reveled in naming and shaming.

And – most importantly – it might even tolerate a complete newbie. More...