Cary, NC — As far back as I can remember, I have loved news. Not the sensationalism or the political leanings that all-too-often intermingle with it now, but news in its truest form.
My “Newsroom” Beginnings
I vividly remember the teachings of Ms. Everett, the faculty member that led my middle school newspaper group. I would take out my pen and paper every day and was fascinated by every bit of it.
She explained the importance of objectivity in journalism and the tone a story should have so as not to tell a reader what to think, but simply to provide the information. “Whatever opinion they form or action they take next,” she would say, “is not your problem.” I did always appreciate that she was a straight shooter, even with pre-teens.
Ms. Everett reinforced the importance of facts and the dangers of misinformation. She got after me about my misuse of commas and by the eighth grade, I was named the paper’s editor-in-chief.
As you may imagine, that was not deemed the coolest thing at age 13, but I didn’t care too much about that when I got the paper copy of each new edition in my hand. That was the best feeling!
In those days, I wrote humorous opinions on bad cafeteria food and profile feature stories on retiring teachers. I wore a “press pass” that I made myself and was chauffeured around town in my mom’s green minivan to take photos that eventually landed on the front page.
During these school years, I just kept falling in love with the news over and over. So, as a bright-eyed, glass-half-full kid, I was pretty petrified of what college and “the real world” would hold for me. Not everyone could be as patient and open-minded as Ms. Everett.
After getting a bachelor’s degree in journalism from WCU, I gave my big dream a shot. Through trials, errors, and sometimes rocky terrain, I found my next few stepping stones with Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine and The Clay County Progress. Those led me to CaryCitizen in January 2020 after moving to the Triangle to be closer to family. Thank goodness Hal and Lindsey saw something in me because this job has been a monumental turning point in my story and the source of so many nuggets of wisdom and inspiration I wouldn’t have found elsewhere.
Since being with CaryCitizen, I’ve covered the pulse of Cary from the chambers of Town Council meetings to the front steps of some of Cary’s everyday heroes. I’ve enjoyed the honor and the responsibility of having a front-row seat and providing the news through a very transparent lens.
Cary, As I See It
I’ve always enjoyed the outlet of writing my Ashley’s Journal entries because it’s quite rare that journalists get a chance to write a column in which they can be subjective and share their own experiences and viewpoints. While I have this rare moment, I’d like to share a few things I’ve absorbed about Cary in the two years I’ve called it home.
Cary 0pened its arms to me instantly. It started on my first walk past the downtown fountain on my way to interview for this position and now, just a short time later, I know many of the downtown business owners by name. Doors to public officials were kept open and nearly every question I ever asked got answered. I met selfless nonprofit owners, courageous firefighters and lots of Cary’s “movers and shakers.”
As I learned about the festivals and traditions along with the quirky acronyms and the odd-shaped roadways of this Town, I found the most community-centered place I’ve ever lived. Sure, all towns have their flaws and Cary is no exception. But, where Cary did prove to be exceptional was in its overall community culture. From the majority of residents, I have heard a common theme — Everyone is a neighbor here. Everyone deserves a good place to lay their head at night. And, most of all, everyone deserves to feel welcome and respected.
As I continue to live in Cary with my wife, I hope to continue to see and tell stories of Cary’s positive disposition and continued growth.
Thanks for the Learning Moments
Many of my learning moments since being in Cary have led me to where I am now, finishing up my time with one news organization before jumping aboard a new one. I suppose all that’s left to do is take a moment to show my appreciation.
It’s a unique bond that a writer, particularly a journalist, gets to have with their audience.
I thought day-in and day-out about this group of mostly strangers and unnamed people and made a living by serving them. I would work tirelessly to make my articles interesting, concise, and truthful without exception. I always want to be worthy of a reader’s time and to make good use of what little of it I can get, uninterrupted.
While my “pond” of readers is soon to grow, I will continue staying true to my beginnings and the teachings of Ms. Everett all those years ago. News is about the facts, of course, but it’s also about people. Telling stories, in my view, is the best tool we have as a species to be connected. It’s a great load of responsibility that I happily take on my shoulders to earn a reader’s trust and keep it.
My Next Step
As I move over to CBS 17 as a Digital Content Editor, I do hope some of you will follow along. (If you do, I will give the heads up that you will be able to find me under my new name, Ashley Anderson as I recently got married.)
It has been a great privilege to write for you and to get to know Cary. If just one of my articles has made you feel more connected to this community, my time here has been well spent. Thanks for reading.
Story and photos by Ashley Kairis.
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