About the Next Generation of News Professionals

From a story on editorandpublisher.com about the next generation of news professionals:

Kayleen Holder, 33
Editor, The Devine News
Devine, Texas
Education: Texas A&M University, bachelor of arts, education English language arts

What advice do you have for other young professionals in the news industry?

Find the good in your community. Helping people is just as important as the hard-hitting news. When it comes to covering tough issues in a small town, write it in a way that makes it clear you are part of the community.

When you see something truly important, don’t be afraid to dig in. I’d say the three most impactful stories we’ve published were also the three that took the most courage to write. I was both honored and terrified to do the first interview with local doctor, Richard Neel, who believed high doses of melatonin could be the most effective new treatment for the COVID-19 virus that researchers all over the world were looking for. It was an experimental idea, and it was kind of unbelievable to think that our little newspaper would be the first to publish an article about an idea that could literally affect the whole world. He cited plenty of studies on melatonin being used to treat infections such as sepsis, MERS, and Ebola, but the idea that it could be used to treat COVID-19 was entirely new.

We stuck our necks out there along with highly respected and educated Dr. Neel, because we thought it was the right thing to do, and sometimes that’s what it takes to really make a difference. Now those interviews, published by our little weekly newspaper, have been read on every continent of the world.

What are some of your favorite memories from working in the family business?

Grandpa built a desk for me in the corner of the news office when I was three, and we made many newspaper rain hats. Now, at 33, I have the unique pleasure of working side by side with my mother at the family business, which was established in 1897.

As the pandemic began, I remember looking up brittle, old news pages to read great-great grandpa’s coverage of the Spanish Flu epidemic (1920s), and my grandma’s stories on Polio vaccines (1960s). A couple weeks later, I interviewed a brilliant local doctor, with a bold new idea for treating COVID-19. We published the first article March 20 online, and in print the following Tuesday. On a busy press day two weeks later, we re-arranged the front page when he called to say, “Well, I’m treating COVID patients with melatonin, and it’s working!” In the following weeks, we did many interviews with scientists and physicians.

But I’ll never forget presenting the rough draft of that first story to my mom/publisher at my kitchen table 11 months ago. She put on her glasses, and read every word carefully, more closely than any other article I’ve ever written. She nodded her head and said, “Let’s do this.”

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