Meet the new reporter in Jackson County: Katelyn Waltemyer

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
Katelyn Waltemyer graduated from James Madison University in May.

I haven't always loved reading. Soon after starting kindergarten, I knew I was behind the other kids.

Whenever it was my turn to read aloud there would be a few snickers from my peers. No matter how hard I tried to keep up with the reading levels of my classmates, I was always left in the dust. I hated reading, and I hated school.

So, I did kindergarten all over again, and wow, I am so happy I did. Once I got the extra time I needed, I began to do well in school, especially reading and writing. I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't gotten that extra time. (And it wouldn't have brought me to where I am today, happily living in Jackson County and covering this community.)

In middle school, my love for reading bloomed into a love for writing. In high school, my love for writing turned into a love for reporting.

I was first introduced to journalism my freshman year of high school. I took the entry-level journalism class and fell in love. I'll never forget the day I knew I wanted to become a journalist.

The bell rang and the journalism teacher said we were going to do an exercise. Everyone had to take out a piece of paper and write down what the room looked like while sitting in our chairs. Then, we stood on top of our desks and did the same thing. After that, we laid on the floor (looking back, that was kind of gross, but that's beside the point) and did the same thing.

When we were finished, we discussed what we noticed about the room from different perspectives. Everyone noticed something different. That's when it hit me: I always want to look at the world from different perspectives, and reporting challenged me to do just that.

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In college, my love for reporting turned into a love for mentorship in the newsroom.

As a student, I spent my time working for and climbing the leadership ladder of its award-winning newspaper  The BreezeI began writing for the news section immediately as a freshman, was promoted to news editor as a sophomore and maintained that position until I was hired as editor-in-chief at the end of my junior year. I won three Virginia Press Association awards in college: one for data journalism, another for breaking news coverage and the last for my portfolio on education reporting.

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I'm a Lynchburg, Virginia, native. I stayed in the area until I went to college at James Madison University, which is located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I graduated with my bachelor's in media arts and design which is a fancy way of saying media studies with a concentration in journalism and a minor in communications.

I moved to West Virginia about two weeks ago, and while I'm still figuring the area out, I've learned so much already. The rivalry between Ripley and Ravenswood is on another level, the towns are small and filled with character, everyone knows everyone and the parks and hiking trails around here are excellent.

For two towns that compete over everything, Ripley and Ravenswood have more in common than people born here will probably admit. What one town doesn't offer, the other does. I find myself driving between the two often outside of work already. 

As I become more acquainted with Jackson County, I'm going to learn the ins and outs of local government, the highs and lows of the education system, and I'm going to tackle local socio-economic disparities from the housing market to healthcare. My goal is to hold people and institutions accountable so you, the citizens of Jackson County, really know what's going on in your neighborhood. 

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When I'm not working, I enjoy exercising  like lifting weights, HIIT, hiking, yoga  learning about skincare, reading and being around animals like dogs and cats. Some of my favorite TV shows areThe West Wing, Schitts Creek, New Girl and Jane the Virgin.

Books I adore include The Great Gatsby, The Glass Castle, Looking for Alaska and I'm working on the Harry Potter series now. I know, I'm a little late to the game. 

News readers: I am here to listen to you. I am here to research and report on what you want to know, and what Jackson County needs to know, so feel free to reach me at kwaltemyer@jacksonnewspapers.com or on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer with story ideas.