Shelby Ashline’s (Other) Dream Job
Having dreamed of being a journalist since she was 15, Shelby Ashline is finally living that life. In May, after graduating from the University of Massachusetts, she started work as a reporter with The Greenfield Recorder.
Tuesday through Saturday, she covers events, meetings and other happenings in Franklin County—everything from sexual misconduct allegations to graduations, fires, government meetings and fundraisers. “If it happens, I cover it,” Shelby says. “It’s such a wild ride and I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
On Fridays, Shelby is the Recorder’s night reporter, covering any breaking news and checking the district court for interesting arraignments. Being the only reporter on Saturdays means she ends up writing about fun festivals as well as tragic breaking news. She also writes two articles for the features page each month and especially enjoys when she gets to write about horses.
“This isn’t a 9-to-5 job,” Shelby says.
On election night, Shelby remained at the office from noon to 2 a.m.; she compared the experience to a sleepover—in the newsroom. “Hanging out with all the others, watching the television as the numbers came in, and us all working toward the same mission—it was a great bonding experience for us,” Shelby says.
Shelby interned with Janice in the Spring of 2015 through the University of Massachusetts Amherst, while pursuing a journalism degree. She wrote feature articles for The Daily Hampshire Gazette, developed skills in writing press releases and using WordPress; it all helped get her foot in the door at the newspaper.
Shelby continues to work as an editorial assistant with Janice, writing blogs, helping with select client projects and overseeing the Beetle Press and The Creative newsletters.
Now, as The Recorder’s North County reporter, Shelby covers “anything that happens in Northfield, Leyden, Warwick and Bernardston, as well as the Pioneer Valley Regional School District’s five schools.
Shelby emphasizes the importance of having good time management skills and a handle on her calendar and address book. She acknowledges that it’s hard to just work 40 hours each week and finds herself thinking about her job even when she isn’t there.
Shelby is learning continuously, anything from writing attention-grabbing headlines and leads and reasoning behind certain choices of words and use of detail. She wishes she learned as an undergrad about the resources available to journalists, such as free police scanner apps.
She advises journalism students to develop their listening and note-taking skills rather than relying solely on recordings “because in the real world, there is no way you’re going to have the time to go back later and play back your recording and transcribe it on a 4 p.m. deadline.”
She’s also learned about how editors measure stories by column inches, not word counts, how to adjust the settings on her camera to account for florescent lighting, and that you aren’t ever going to please everyone.
Shelby attributes part of her success to interning with Janice. “She is such a valuable connection to have, and a beautiful person to know,” Shelby says.
Shelby enjoys covering small town news and sees that part of her work is immersing herself in the community. She says, “It’s an amazing thing to walk into a town meeting and know half the people in the room by name. That’s when you know you’re doing your job right.”