Keaton Burgess ’22 finds passion for community journalism
Keaton Burgess, a senior from Red Cloud, Nebraska, is learning what it takes to be a community journalist through his internship with the Seward County Independent (SCI).
Burgess, a journalism major, has been interning with the SCI since May, where he’s had the opportunity to write about anything and everything—breaking news, community news, personal interest stories and everything in between. He says he’s planning to continue working for the paper during the school year.
The journalism field felt like a perfect fit for Burgess, who has always had a love for writing.
Through his work, Burgess says he wants to help improve the perception some people may have of journalists that has been formed over the last few years. According to a study by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (pages 112-113), the U.S. has a media trust rating of 29%, the lowest among the 46 countries surveyed.
“I feel that a lot of people give journalists a bad reputation nowadays, and I’m hoping to change that narrative,” he says.
As a student, having the opportunity to work in a newsroom and produce stories for a newspaper has helped Burgess understand what it takes to be a journalist. He was pleasantly surprised when he walked into the newsroom for the first time, it was much different than the stoic atmosphere he was expecting.
“We take our work seriously, but we also like to have fun while we’re at it,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot about reporting and how to conduct an interview. This experience has also helped improve my confidence in my ability to work in the journalism field. I know that I’m capable of so much more than I thought and I feel better about my future.”
Burgess says it was important for him to take advantage of this opportunity because of how it is preparing him for the workforce.
“I think it’s really important to try and get some sort of experience like this in your field,” he says. “This internship has opened my eyes to what journalism is really like and it has been a great experience.”
After graduation, Burgess says he hopes to work for a community newspaper—whether that’s the SCI in Seward or another town of similar size.
“I can start as a reporter and hopefully work my way up to editor,” he says. “I definitely wouldn’t mind working at the SCI, it’s been a really good time. I think I would prefer to work in a smaller town.”
As for his favorite story he’s written so far—Burgess says he really enjoyed interviewing Julie Wisehart, co-owner of the Rivoli Theatre in Seward.
“It was really interesting to learn about her and the theatre and be able to share her story with the community,” he says.