Good afternoon Southeastern Missouri. As you can probably tell, I’m the newest member of the DAR news staff. My name is Michael Shine and I just moved to Poplar Bluff in order to join this amazing news team.
I grew up in Orlando, Florida, as the youngest of three and was homeschooled for half of my secondary education. My mom went to college in Ohio to be a teacher and when my oldest sister started struggling in school, she decided that homeschooling would be a better option.
I started in public school in seventh grade and by ninth was studying journalism. My high school teacher didn’t work in journalism before starting to run the high school paper, but over the years she had been dedicated to it and made the paper one of the best high school newspapers in the country, regularly being recognized as All Florida from the Florida Scholastic Press Association and with multiple gold and silver crowns from Columbia Scholastic Press Association in New York City.
At that point, I didn’t want to be a journalist. I was looking into becoming a forensic scientist, studying criminal psychology or working as a street cop.
However, by the time I was getting ready to graduate high school, I’d spent three years pouring my heart, soul and every spare minute I had into that monthly newspaper. I’d attended conventions — including one at Columbia University — and had rose to the position of Co-Editor, which meant spending even more time working on the paper. During my junior year, I was the News Editor and my advisor told me that I was the first person in her career with the paper to actually go up to her and ask for the position.
I decided about halfway through my senior year that if I was spending that amount of time, effort and sleepless nights working on the newspaper, there had to be a reason. It felt as though even if that wasn’t my focus after leaving high school, I would still end up working in the newspaper industry.
I remember telling my parents of the decision over video chat — they were living in Pennsylvania at the time — and my mom expressing serious reservations about this new career choice because of the notion that newspapers are dying out and the possibility that there wouldn’t be a job for me. My dad’s response to her concerns was to say, “I don’t think newspapers are dying. I think the industry is changing. He’ll find something.”
So I decided to go to the University of South Florida to pursue a degree in print journalism. By October of my first year, I’d been hired as Co-News Editor of the college newspaper, where I was actually getting paid — albeit not a lot — to do the work I was passionate about. Making the switch from a monthly paper to one that was four days a week was a challenge and resulted in spending many late nights in that office — our press deadline was 12:30 a.m. — and eating not an insignificant number of meals from the vending machine.
While it was exhausting to keep up with that and a full class load, I wouldn’t take that semester back. It was definitely one of the best experiences of my college career and prepared me far better than any of my classes could have to enter the world of professional journalism.
I spent my second year as Managing Editor before moving up to the lead position of Editor in Chief for my last year of college — even with working at the paper, I managed to complete my degree in three years.
Again, I was spending every spare minute working in the office, doing interviews, writing or editing stories, promoting the paper or thinking about things we could be doing better. That makes me sound like a shut-in with no friends and for the most part I was. I had one friend who didn’t work at the paper who did a good job of making sure I got out occasionally even if it was just to get some dinner or go shopping.
I graduated in May 2018 and was heading for El Dorado, Arkansas by the end of June. I was hired to be the Education Reporter and spent a year there taking photos and videos, writing stories and designing pages. The switch to a seven day a week paper was easier than I had expected it to be, but my workaholic history followed me and frequently meant working at least six days out of the week.
I love my experience there as well as the people I got the chance to work with. However, I realized that jumping into a daily paper straight from college was probably more than I could handle.
I started looking a couple months ago and found the DAR. When I came up here for the interview, I fell for the town and could see the passion in the newsroom. This is what I’d wanted to find and I’m beyond happy that it worked out.
So, to the people of Southeast Missouri, I’m the DAR’s newest reporter, primarily focused on education. I’m very excited to see what I can continue to learn about the industry here, how I can continue to improve my work and how to best serve you in covering your schools. Our schools.