Welcome to The Land: Shermayne Dixon, Cleveland State University intern

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Shermayne Dixon is a 2021 spring intern with The Land. We recently caught up with her to ask her a bit about her background and what she hopes to learn through this experience.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, where you’re attending school, and your major and interests.

It was Cleveland State University’s reputation for their writing program that attracted me to the institution. For my first two years of attendance, I was a Journalism/Promotional Communications major. I desired a change in pace however, and I changed my major to English Literature at the end of my sophomore year of college. I am primarily interested in writing, whether it’s a novel (fiction or nonfiction) or brief short stories. I also consider myself to be a voracious reader, with a growing book collection!

What interests you about journalism? Why did you decide to intern with The Land?

Even though I changed my major, my love for journalism hasn’t wavered! Journalism initially intrigued me because of the community outreach. I wanted people to understand what was going on around them, and there’s also a certain charm in documenting new revelations, whether it’s locally or around the world. Being a part of the flow of information is something I’m proud of!

I chose to intern with The Land because I knew that I could experience the impact of news on Cleveland’s communities firsthand. I want to help shine light on others doing amazing things, to better each other as a collective.

What have you learned so far as part of your internship?

During my time with The Land, I’ve learned about the importance of engagement. Something that I’ve observed while covering the Facebook page for The Land was how many reposts/likes/comments each post would get. Some comments were positive towards a story, and others showed indifference. Our audience is passionate about the stories we publish, despite their conflicting emotions towards the material. Engagement has given me a firsthand view of what people want to see, or what they feel is important and should be included in the news.

Have you ever written a news story before? What do you find intimidating or exciting about it? What are you most interested in?

I’ve written an article before, but it falls under the op-ed category. A New Danger in Ohio: Stand Your Ground was a piece that I was passionate about. Something truly exciting about it was the process of it all. Writing the overall material, the interactions between the editor and myself, and being able to view the format before my piece was published. It was a unique experience that I will not forget any time soon! What I found to be intimidating was anticipating the responses. Would people read my story? Would people be aware of the issue I was writing about?

What do you hope to learn or accomplish as part of this internship?

While I’m interning at The Land, I want to learn how to adjust to writing stories during this COVID-19 climate. The process of searching for stories has drastically changed since before the pandemic, and I want to learn, and hone the skill of collecting information and reporting on it all while keeping others, and myself safe. I also have a personal goal of writing a few news stories that will help others or inspire them to take action in what they’re passionate about too.

What do you think are the most important stories about our community that aren’t being told?

The little things always matter, and it’s the little things that truly help the community thrive. I think the most important things that occur in the community which aren’t being recognized a lot are when neighbors help each other, or when they band together to improve upon a local building or assist a local establishment. The Land has prime examples of this, like the Community Yahoos. There are people like me, who are relatively new to Cleveland and have no idea about what goes on in the city, or even the neighborhoods in which we live in. People and groups, like the Community Yahoos, are important to document!

As a young person, you’re part of the audience that news organizations are trying to reach. What advice do you have for The Land about creating appealing and interesting content for your demographic?

The youth read the news too. In my opinion, things that are the most appealing to people of my age are things that directly affect us and our communities. If new and affordable housing developments are underway, we’d love to learn more about them! If a new business is opening in our neighborhood, we’d love to hear about it and support it! Something to consider is that we are in our early 20s, trying to navigate the adult life with the threat of COVID-19 constantly there.

To learn more about internship opportunities with The Land, click here.

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