The Shelby County Reporter staff recently celebrated its 170th anniversary at the Shelby County Museum and Archives. (contributed)
The Shelby County Reporter staff recently celebrated its 170th anniversary at the Shelby County Museum and Archives. (contributed)

A welcome return to community journalism

Published 11:08am Tuesday, November 19, 2013

By CASSANDRA MICKENS / Associate Editor

Hello, again.

It’s been about five years since my first stint at the Shelby County Reporter. Back then, I was a bright-eyed, 20-something fresh out of graduate school with a community journalism degree in tow. Now I’m a bright-eyed, 30-something with a few more life lessons under my belt and an even greater appreciation for community journalism.

Last month, I moved back to my hometown of Hoover from Mississippi, where I worked for the state’s largest metro daily newspaper. I had long dreamed of working for a large newspaper since college, but I soon learned my dream had its advantages and disadvantages.

It’s no secret that metro daily newspapers are struggling in this increasingly digital age. And while I’m grateful for the experience gained and relationships made, I won’t miss the corporate layoffs, furloughs and other cost-saving measures, or the tears shed.

Many people, both friends and acquaintances, ask me why, despite what appears to be the death of newspapers, would I continue to pursue journalism. I answer first by shooting down the notion that newspapers are dead. Several thriving community newspapers, including the Shelby County Reporter, are proof of that. Then I say what I always say: I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the 170th anniversary celebration of the Shelby County Reporter at the Shelby County Museum and Archives, and I was touched by the outpour of gratitude from all walks of the community. The event further strengthened my belief in the power of journalism, of newspapers, and journalists’ ability to capture and deliver information to readers. And while the delivery of that information continues to change, the capturing — the storytelling — will never go out of style.

So, with that said, I’m happy to be back at the Shelby County Reporter this second time around. My coverage area includes Chelsea, Hoover, Indian Springs Village, Mt Laurel and North Shelby, as well as court happenings and the Shelby County Commission. Email me your story tips at or give me a call at 669-3131 ext. 30.

Or, if you’re Twitter savvy, you can follow me @CassMickens.

Cassandra Mickens is Associate Editor for the Shelby County Reporter.

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