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Get to know 812 journalist Conor Geary

Conor features unique people living in Southeast Indiana

(AURORA, Ind.) -- It was any ordinary evening, I lay in bed looking at Facebook like any other “boomer” my age would be doing tapping the occasional “like” button on a relatable post or if it were an image of cute puppies then of course I would give it a “heart”. I then see a post by The 812 reaching out for possible interest for journalists.


I felt this was something I could do, I mean why not, I’ve never done journalism before but I am an author of several failed books. However, this could be different a fresh start to my writing career, something I have chased for so long.


However, becoming a writer was not my first dream and I am also not a native of southeastern

Indiana. In fact, my first thought after graduating from the fourth biggest high school in Indiana

was getting into video game design. My love for gaming was an invitation to create more and

exciting games for the youth.


The overwhelmingly sized high school I had attended compared to that of a shopping mall but

without all of the fun and exciting places to shop. Penn High School was a great place for an

education that would take me places. My first stop after high school was Ivy Tech Community

College. It was a fun fresh start after completion of high school but it was Ball State University

that led me down to southeastern Indiana.


I meant my wife, who was from southeastern Indiana so this is how my story landed me here. I

still remember my initial thoughts as I made my first adventure here to visit my then girlfriend.

The amount of unused land was astonishing. I couldn’t get past the amount of land not

developed on.


Then, I could not understand the fascination with people having a pond in their yard. I found this intriguing why it was even something to have or want but everyone seemed to have one. I have now lived in southeastern Indiana for twelve years so the amount of unused rolling land and the every so common pond is now a part of my identity, I suppose you can say it is the country way.


Since 2011, I have gotten married, had four children, held a great job and met so many

wonderful people. Rural Indiana is most definitely a different place to live than up north,

however, it has so many interesting stories to tell.


From the river towns of Aurora, Lawrenceburg and Rising Sun to the local talent. I knew the

post from The 812 was a calling and it was time for me to answer. I felt this is my opportunity to tell our story, the story of rural Indiana.


It took me less than ten seconds to make my decision, I was going to email The 812 and see if

my qualifications fit their requirements. The next day I received a call from Steven Harmeyer,

the face of The 812 wanting to talk to me.


We had a lengthy discussion that ultimately led to asking if I wanted to come on and write

articles surrounding our local news. Of course I was excited, for this was and is a new chapter in my life, something that could pave a fresh beginning to a newly opened door.


By thirty-seven years of age I knew I should do some diligent planning and research if I was

going to become a journalist. I reached out to a now retired veteran in journalism. Someone who their career writing articles in the Star Press would help shape my ability to become a better writer.


Seth Slabaugh, a now retired journalist would be my source, my mentor as an aspiring

journalist. He certainly has the credentials of someone I should seek advice from if I was going

to become the best journalist. Seth was more than just a journalist but a trusted member of my

family, he was my uncle!


I too spent a lengthy while on the phone discussing the art of journalism and what I could expect but also gain from this profession. He shared stories from his years as a writer and knowledge that would be of good use down the path I was now paving.


My Uncle Seth was a life long Hoosier, born and raised in Northern Lake County (Warsaw area) before moving to Chicago in 2023. He got his higher education at Indiana University where he then “spent my career in flat, central corn country Muncie Indiana.”


Seth was a daily reporter for more than four decades. When he started at The Star in 1977,

there were only two newspapers in Muncie, The Star and Evening Press.


My uncle told me, “The two were fiercely competitive and thrived on scooping each other.”


The Gannett/USA Today chain would eventually acquire both newspapers and merge them.


One of my uncle’s most memorable stories included exposing the spread into the community of industrial chemicals known as PCBs by a local Westinghouse transformer factory. The reporting led the US Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a cleanup and also won Seth the Kent Cooper Award.


Seth went on to win numerous awards from the Hoosier State Press Association and the

Indiana Associated Press Managing Editors in addition to awards from various non-news

organizations including the Clarity in Reporting Award from the Indiana Section of the American Water Works Association.


To say the least I have nothing to gain but to have my uncle as my mentor in journalism from his countless articles beginning in Muncie but have traveled and published from various news

outlets from coast to coast. I am sure by my age my uncle had written an abundance of articles but if there was any better place to begin my career as a journalist I would start by picking up a pen, paper and write.

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