It was the winter of 2017, and I had just moved to Hopkinsville with my better half for her work. At the time, I was working from home, writing for an outdoor magazine.
It was a cushy job that required a ton of travel, hours testing new kayaks and fishing gear. It was a dream job for a lot of professional writers.
Before that winter, I found myself enthralled by the nonprofit news website Insider Louisville. The reporters there had helped uncover corruption within the the University of Louisville athletic program and it all played out like a Tarantino movie — except it wasn't a movie. It was real life, real tax dollars and a group of scrappy reporters just telling the truth to power.
And I found myself writing fluff pieces for free swag. With each new gear review, I lost a little something about myself.
I had always wanted to write for a living. I wanted to speak truth to power. I wanted to make a difference.
But here I was telling an international audience about how this campsite chili cooker was the best thing since sliced bread, when in reality it wasn't worth the presents my dogs leave for the guy who mows my yard.
But I kept coming back to the scrappy news team taking on Kentucky’s largest city. Insider Louisville was the best source to learn about everything from local dining in the city to in-depth reporting from Frankfort.
I particularly found myself enamored with the reporting on Jefferson County Public Schools and the Kentucky Board of Education. I've been a politics nerd since I could read, but learning about the intricacies of school boards and state funding — or lack thereof — excited me.
After a few months in Hopkinsville, I realized that I needed to be honest with myself. I wasn’t happy with my career. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
I wanted to report on education. It was probably some kind of divine intervention that the New Era was hiring an education reporter at the exact same time.
I took the job and have never regretted it. Local education is important. Local politics are important. Everything local is important and the community deserves to know.
Last night, Insider Louisville announced that it will cease publishing Aug. 7. That is a blow to the entire state.
Some of the best journalists in Kentucky will lose their jobs. There will be a noticeable gap in the truth-to-power ratio. Kentucky will be a worse place because of this.
I owe my entire news career to that crew who put a fire in my belly.
When the news broke, New Era Publisher Brandon Cox tweeted that it was a reminder that journalism is a tough, tough business.
Soon-to-be former Insider Louisville Education Reporter Olivia Krauth put it another way, “Pay for your da** news.”