Getting out from behind the desk

Tina Bridenstine
The Shawnee News-Star

I am not new to the News-Star. I first started working here in fall of 2009. Some of you might even recognize my name from back when I wrote a personal column, or because you've seen my name on the occasional photo, or maybe because you emailed me a birth or anniversary announcement for the paper. But mainly, I've been working behind the scenes.

This year, though, things are changing a bit.

Ever since I first started working at the paper, a large part of my job was designing pages. With those responsibilities being moved to other designers within the company, that's not something I'll be doing anymore.

Some things will stay the same. Do you want to announce the birth of a baby, an engagement, a wedding, or an anniversary? You can still send those events and pictures to me, and I will make sure they get in the paper. It's a free service we offer, and something you can put in your scrapbooks (if you do that sort of thing).

For the most part, though, my role is going through some big changes.

As a designer, I've spent more than a decade hiding out behind a desk in the office. I've corresponded with columnists and our poets, and once in a while helped out taking pictures or putting together a quick story. But generally, I haven't worked with the public much, and the main people I was able to get acquainted with were my coworkers.

Now I'll be venturing out into the world of reporting.

In a way, it feels like coming home. Page design was not actually where I started out, but rather a skill I picked up along the way. The job market was tough in 2009, especially in Kansas City where I was living, and I needed a job. So when there was an opening for a designer in Shawnee, I took a chance and applied.

Reporting, though, is what I trained for and where I got my start. Fresh out of St. Gregory's University (where I worked on the school newspaper – The Chant), I started working as a reporter back home at a small daily paper in Liberal, Kansas. I have always been shy, so it was a job that forced me out of my comfort zone at times. But, oh, the rewards! I loved getting to know people in the community and having the opportunity to stay informed about all the goings on in the area. It was always such a privilege to get to tell the stories in my community – whether it was a war bride from World War II, a rodeo clown, or even a 90-year-old grandma who was still baking pies every day for the harvest crew on the farm.

I've lived in Shawnee for quite a while now, but I look forward to the chance to get out into the community more and to meet some of you. If there's a story you would like to see in the paper, feel free to reach out. Stories are what we do, so give us the chance to tell yours.

Tina Bridenstine can be reached at That's also where you can send any poetry or announcements for the Lifestyles pages.