By Skyler Baldwin  The Duncan Banner

By Skyler Baldwin

The Duncan Banner

It’s a strange feeling, coming back to my hometown and working with a paper I used to read every day. It feels like things are coming full circle in a lot of ways, and it’s somewhat bittersweet, because it reminds me of how much time I really spent away from Duncan in the last few years and how little I remember, or ever knew, about the town I call home.

At the same time, it’s encouraging. I got to put my education and skills to the test — skills that I have been developing since I was 14 years old in that ratty old newsroom in the West Building (shout out to Lisa Snider) — and I found out that I really do have what it takes to do this job in the real world.

I was actually worried about this internship my first couple of days, because every newsroom is different. Even though I spent the last eight-ish years in a newsroom, it’s hard to know exactly what the next one will be like. I wasn’t sure if I would get along with the staff, if they would like me, if they listened to country music without headphones.

Fortunately, none of those fears really came to fruition, and I found a welcoming spot on the staff at The Duncan Banner. I didn’t feel like an intern after the first week or so; I felt like a part of the team.

Of course, the vast amount of sticky notes (only one of which has real information written on it (and I didn’t actually write that one)) and stickers clinging to my monitor are evidence enough of what it looks like to be a part of this team.

When I sat down to write this column, I expected it to be 80 percent of all the professional opportunities this position has given me — all the different kinds of stories and articles I’ve written and the people I’ve been able to meet in the community — but anyone can see that by reading my articles in the paper.

What I really want to talk about is what made this last month special. Every reporter job is going to be similar, writing interesting stories and meeting interesting people is simply the job. But what made this position unique was without a doubt where I have been.

As special as the community of Duncan is, however, what I meant was the newsroom itself. From Monday’s commissioner meeting transcriptions to Tuesday’s many furry friends, each one I have declared as “my favorite” at least once, every day there was something to make me smile while working.

The vast majority of my time spent at my desk didn’t feel like work. Maybe it was that my Spotify was almost constantly playing (at a low volume so as not to truly distract me from my responsibilities) one of my many playlists. 

Maybe it was that I genuinely love hearing other people tell their stories and have the opportunity to share them with their community. I think mostly, though, it was that I felt close to those working next to me. 

Between the funny sticky notes and snarky comments, I knew that I was surrounded by people I could go to for help, advice or a good laugh. Toward the end, of course, the snarky comments started growing in number, but I have to think it’s because they don’t want me to leave just yet.

If I’m honest, if I didn’t have such a powerful reason to leave, I don’t think I would. I have loved being back in my hometown of Duncan with my family, friends and great job. I would love to continue to grow in this community.

But I also know that this position, above all else, was a launching pad for me. Not only was I able to prove to myself that I can do this, but I have gained the experience and the portfolio to prove it to others.

Thanks to this newsroom and the incredible people in it, I know that whatever community I end up as a part of next, I will be able to grow in just as well as I could have in this one.

So to the people in the Courthouse, the Humane Society, Rotary Club, The Noon Lions, City Council and everyone else that welcomed me into your space for the last month, sorry I didn’t give you all a proper goodbye.

And to the staff at The Duncan Banner, I’m sorry I had to give you a goodbye at all, especially now that we have design back. But hey, you all have me on Facebook, so feel free to keep in touch.