Journalism is my love-hate relationship. I love the ability to chronicle the folly of man, the absurdities of existence. When everything clicks, when sources call you back before deadline and you score that essential document nobody else has, the universe clicks.
It’s all gravy.
You feel like a 100-foot tall Woodward and Bernstein, ripping the city’s foul heart asunder, punching through city hall roof and scooping up errant bureaucrats and public servants in your fists.
Other times, the sense of futility is deafening. The mundane conversations, pouring through line-by-line of legislation, a panging notion everything you write will be misunderstood.
They’ll think you have an agenda. Biased. Member of the liberal media elite.
So you dust yourself off, rise from the barstool and continue writing.
You do it because getting the facts and putting them on the record is essential, lest the propagandists grab the public’s ear.
Honest, straightforward reporting is going by the wayside, leaving partisan commentary masquerading as journalism.
Corporate media with an agenda.
Making fat stacks.
Whether the public is informed is irrelevant.
Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. The demise of print. A wellspring of Internet news sites, blogs and electronic delivery of news.
After nearly 20 years of reporting for various newspapers, both daily and weekly, I received a promotion.
I am a managing editor. Some of my co-workers said the promotion was long overdue. As much as I’d like to live in a cabin by a lake and write novels, journalism is my bread and butter. It’s how I survive, and if I knew how rough it would be, I’d be doing something else, like teaching improv to drunk hipsters at the Unitarian church on Friday nights. Maybe cleaning toilets or washing dishes in a biker bar.
You know; something more profitable and dignified.
The older I get, the more I realize we’re all clowns shoved into one comically tiny vehicle. Each of us struggling and clawing for breathing space before we suffocate or snap our necks. Pressing against each other, arms knotted like pretzels, there’s nowhere for us to go. We’re stuck in that stupid car, venturing together on the same journey. We’d better learn to like the cramped conditions and enjoy the ride.
Another bonus about growing older is my bullshit detector is finely honed. I know when I’m being lied to, used or otherwise patronized. My proclivity to be painfully forthright, to the point of brusqueness, shocks many.
This is why I’m never invited to parties.
As managing editor, I’m responsible for editing stories, writing headlines and (eventually) pagination. Quite a responsibility, but I’ve prepared myself for this. Professionally, it’s a dream come true.
I’ve got several ideas I’d like to see, including a return to investigative journalism and an expanded online presence. Harnessing social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
Newspapers should remain viable medium for mass communication, but acknowledge the Internet is not some looming threat. The Internet is another broadcasting tool publishers can use to spread their content out to the world. Before, we relied on the physical product, the newspaper which needed to be printed and distributed manually. Now our words are read on screens to everyone with a computer, cellphone or tablet. How is this a threat? It should be embraced.
Solid objectivity, research and superb writing are in short supply. We plan to give this to the public. There’s a real draught in well-told, local stories. We shouldn’t regurgitate facts, but put them in some kind of perspective, making issues relevant to readers. Newspapers inform, entertain and educate. Great newspapers, the stately broadsheets that have stood the test of time, do this and more.
My mission as managing editor will be to produce a quality product, one the staff and community can be proud of.