Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1093

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1093

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1093

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1093

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1093

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1093

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1105

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1132

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1093

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1093

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/114651/domains/thesocialsilo.com/html/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1122

Six years ago when I graduated college with a degree in writing, I really didn’t want to write for anything locally. My local newspaper, The Daily Record, was hiring at the time, but I tried to steer myself away.

I wanted something outside of my county — maybe even several counties away — because I wasn’t sure I could handle the pressure of writing for the same audience where I grew up.

But there were limited job openings and my efforts to land one far away were unsuccessful. I interviewed at the local daily, got the job, and began my six-year stint writing from what I consider my “back yard.”

It’s remarkable and also challenging to be able to cover the news in an area where I grew up and lived all my life.

When I was interviewed for my first job, I admitted to the editor that one of my sample stories contained some sources I was related to. (It was about a family who had traveled to all 50 states together, and was not a controversial topic). But I told him while it might seem like an advantage to interview family, it was also a challenge — because if I wrote anything that wasn’t right — they knew where I lived.

Ever since, I don’t think I’ve interviewed anyone closer than a third-cousin, and that’s probably for the best.

Familiar faces

But I am always telling the stories of people I’ve known for a very long time, and that makes it easier in some ways, and more difficult in others.

This past weekend was the Ohio Cattlemen’s Roundup and it was held in Wooster, where I now live and write. One of the stops was Acker Farms along Millbrook Road, and I think this is about the third or fourth time I’ve written about the farm for a newspaper.

The farm was only about 10 minutes from Wooster, and even on that short drive, I kept passing other farms and businesses where I had written about in other years. I can’t go very many places in this county, or the counties around it, and not cross paths with a farm or individual who I’ve interviewed and written about, or whose picture I’ve taken.

A couple weeks ago, I visited Hartzler Dairy for an upcoming feature story. I’ve eaten their ice cream the past 16 years and I’ve written about them at least twice — once for the paper I worked at before, and now for the Farm and Dairy.

Sometimes it’s hard writing about a place that I’ve already covered, and you have to look for new angles and new perspective. But, because our farms and their owners are always changing, it’s not as hard as it might seem.

I love when people name a street or landmark and I know where it is.

Knowing the area

Many times, if you give me a farmer’s name in my county, I can tell you the next two farmers beside him. But this has hurt me a few times, because I’ve assumed that I knew where someone lived, and found out I should have checked a little better, in case they have moved or handed the farm down to someone else.

If I’m not happy with how an article turned out, I always think about it when I drive past that person’s farm or see them in person. On the flipside, if something went very well and I know it, I remember that, as well.

I enjoy making trips to places like western Ohio and the far north, because I know far fewer people in those places and I can sort of blend in a little better.

Spreading out

But what I’m finding is that each trip I make, I’m learning more names and people are learning my own, and my anonymity is slowly fading. A couple years of seeing the same people at the same events, and I feel like I know them.

There’s an advantage to being under the radar a bit, because it helps you to be more objective and discreet about what you’re doing. But there’s an even greater advantage to knowing something about the people for whom you write, and who make your publication possible.

And it’s really a blessing to be able to live and work in the same area that I grew up. And to not have to travel several counties or states away to find a job.

I’ve got some deep roots in this area, and I enjoy seeing what they will grow.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
View all posts by Chris Kick

Related posts: