A long way to Tipperary
by Jennifer Cohron
Jan 29, 2012 | 1279 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
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A young woman walks into a busy newsroom.

She has more potential than experience and carries a spunky attitude in lieu of references.

To her surprise, she leaves a short while later with not only a job but the title of associate producer of the WJM news team.

Wait a second. That’s Mary Tyler Moore.

The Jennifer Cohron story starts in much the same way, though.

I was a 20-year-old college junior when I got my foot in the door at the Daily Mountain Eagle.

My starting salary was nothing; I was an intern for the first five months I was here.

I didn’t have a desk either. I sat at the computer of whoever happened to be off on the day I came in.

Brian Kennedy, who was then executive editor of the Eagle, granted me the internship.

I looked pretty good on paper. I was a mass communication major pursuing minors in history and political science and had been involved at UAB’s student newspaper since the second semester of my freshman year.

What Brian didn’t know was that my initial interest in journalism was based on the fact that I thought Kate Hudson had a cool job in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”

I checked communication studies as an area of interest on one of the many forms UAB sent me after high school graduation and was surprised to find that it was my major when I arrived for freshman orientation.

Soon after I joined the Kaleidoscope, I attended a meeting for editors in training.

I thought it was open to anybody but discovered several semesters later that everyone had been invited except me. Each section editor had chosen someone to promote; I hadn’t made the cut.

Ironically, I was the only newbie who stuck around long enough to become an editor when most of the staff graduated that May.

Dumb luck or what I consider divine intervention also made a way for me at the Eagle.

Looking back now, I doubt that Brian cared much about my resumé. I was free help for Progress, the most labor-intensive special section we put out each year.

As I started jotting down ideas for Progress a few weeks ago, I realized that this month marks five years that I have been at the Eagle.

The girl who met with Brian that day probably didn’t expect to hang around this long.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed when the internship turned into a paid position, but young reporters usually bounce from paper to paper before they settle down in the gig they really want.

I was trying to find the fast track to Montgomery when the 2007 Progress edition completely changed my style of writing.

I fell in love with the people profiles that I was assigned. The more interviews I did, the less I wanted to cover hard news when I grew up.

Five years of feature writing has taught me that we all have a story.

Unfortunately, some of us never share ours until someone comes along asking the right questions.

Doing so is my privilege and my passion, and I’m still amazed that I can make a living at it.

My own story has undergone several rewrites while I’ve been at the Eagle.

To say that I’m guarded in my private life would be an understatement, so it’s more than a bit odd that I have revealed so much about my journey of self-discovery in a weekly column for the past three years.

Each time I ask myself why I keep doing it, I come up with another answer. However, I know there is a reason much bigger than me whenever someone says something I have written either reminded them of a happier time or helped them get through a tough one.

Five years into my career, I’m not where I thought I was going but I’m convinced that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Some day, the time will come to walk away. Maybe I’ll go out like Mary and the gang — sniffling and singing, “It’s a long way to Tipperary. It’s a long way to go...”