I worked as an intern in the Rutland Herald newsroom this summer, and the experience was an excellent crash course in local journalism.
This was my first time writing for a daily newspaper, and I learned how to cover new things, including the criminal justice system. I was also given the freedom to dive into feature stories, which is perhaps my favorite kind of writing. Throughout the summer, I was guided in my work by a team of dedicated reporters and editors, the very people that make the Herald tick and keep this community informed. I am incredibly grateful for their patience and assistance.
More important than the personal growth I experienced this summer, I had the chance to explore new parts of Vermont. As a Middlebury College student, I had never spent a summer here before, and now I know why it was on my bucket list. After hiking the five tallest mountains in the state, I can say without a doubt that there are more shades of green in the landscape here than I have ever seen in my life.
In the course of my reporting, I also got to know Rutland in a new and deeper way. I had never spent much time here before I started this job, and all I had really heard about the area was what people had told me. I was well aware of the stereotypes about Rutland, which in my experience are pervasive both here and in the rest of the state.
However, from my first day of work, I did not see the struggling community I was told to expect. Instead, I found a place full of passionate people who, for the most part, were more than happy to tell me about what they love and why they love it. I have written about local businesses, agriculture, schools, politics and activism. I have connected with local leaders, teachers, artists and those whose strength in the face of adversity inspired me on my worst days.
I have come to disregard the ultimately classist assumptions about Rutland that naysayers warned me about. I am very glad I had the chance to explore this community in my capacity as a reporter. It’s always good to be reminded that no community is just one thing.
I wrote almost 50 stories for the Herald this summer, but I think I am proudest of the feature I wrote about the local LGBTQ community. I spent almost a month working on that piece, and it was an absolute joy to write. To me, that story exemplifies why I love the news. I believe journalism should lend voice to the voiceless and give a platform to members of our society who have been marginalized and ignored. I hope I was able to achieve that with this story. I hope people read it and felt seen.
I have been humbled by the stories that people have shared with me and trusted me to tell this summer — stories about love, loss and trying new things. Stories about the very best and worst of what we as human beings have to offer the world.
I hope I did these stories justice. Writing them has been an honor. Although my time at the Herald is at an end, I hope I will get the chance to continue writing about Vermont in all its wonderful complexity. Please know I will take what I have learned with me, and I cannot thank you enough for all you have taught me.
Sarah Asch is a student at Middlebury College who spent her summer as an intern in the Rutland Herald newsroom.