Learning How to Localize National Political News for SW Colorado

By Dean’s Intern Kelsey Carolan at The Durango Herald

SouthWest ColoradoWalking through the small town of Durango, Colorado in September, I took in the sights and sounds of a city that seemed like a stereotypical Hollywood set of a western film. As someone who has grown up and went to college on the east coast, I was unfamiliar with the culture that I found in Southwest Colorado, along with the issues that people are concerned about. But while reporting on Congress for The Durango Herald, I’ve learned how to localize national political news and pitch stories about the issues that the people in Durango truly care about.

As an intern at The Herald, I cover Colorado senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper as well as Rep. Lauren Boebert, who represents a district in Southwest Colorado. Typically, I look at legislation they are sponsoring or were instrumental in passing and write about how it would affect people in Southwest Colorado. Much of my reporting has involved environmental legislation, since Colorado senators and representatives take the charge on those initiatives. I’ve been able to write about forest and watershed preservation

and restoration, methane emissions and the Bureau of Land Management. This area of environmental reporting is a learning curve and something new for me, but I am glad to gain this knowledge through interviewing experts and local leaders.

Visiting Durango was a highlight of my experience so far. It was great to go in a newsroom for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic and meet my colleagues face-to-face. While there, I was able to add to contribute to a breaking news story about moving the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters back to D.C. from Colorado.

This internship is a great experience to cap off my time at the School of Communication and at American University overall. It has allowed me to make use of the knowledge I gained as both a journalism and political science major, and it has furthered my skills in how to localize and find different story angles. The skills that prepared me for this are all thanks to the professors that have taught me and The Eagle, which has truly taught me all I know about reporting.