For the past three weeks, I have been a newspaper journalist … again.

I originally worked for the Murray Ledger & Times newspaper in Murray, Kentucky, during the late 1990s/early 2000s. I left to take a job with a local book publishing company, swearing on my way out the door that I would never return. When people warn you to “never say never,” you might want to listen to them.

I never really considered myself a very good journalist. I always believed I was good writer, but I never really possessed the instinct or the drive to really track down and work a story the way it should be. The first time around, I eventually developed enough beats and contacts that I could sort of mask my deficiencies. This time, though, I couldn’t deny that I just didn’t have it in me to work as a reporter. I just didn’t care enough.

I say this because for the past three weeks I have been blessed to work with some people who definitely do possess that instinct and drive. It was evident to me on my first day back that I was going to get blown away pretty quickly. I have great admiration for people who do the job of journalist well. They are a special breed, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Not everyone can do what they do. I thought I could once, but the last three weeks have proven me wrong.

I also bring this up because I believe newspaper journalists in particular are woefully under-appreciated in this hatday and age. Sure, print newspapers are rapidly losing more and more ground to the internet and cable television news networks, but there is still something about holding a newspaper in your hands and reading a really well-written article. It’s different from hearing a voice on a screen or clicking on a link. It’s tangible, in a way. That’s the way I view it, at least.

Newspaper reporters work hard at what they do, and there are so many local reporters out there doing great work for their communities. It’s a shame that the word “media” has taken on such a negative connotation these days. I would say nine out of 10 local reporters aren’t even a part of that. They’re just trying to do their jobs accurately. There is no “gotcha” element involved in their work.

You would also be amazed at how much these reporters have to struggle to get people to cooperate with them. I used to put it this way: If you were an architect and you needed plans from me by Tuesday, if I didn’t get them to you on time you would be absolutely irate because I put your job on the line. If a reporter with a deadline calls a source about a story and has to leave a message, though, hardly anyone thinks twice about not calling them back on time, even though they are directly affecting the reporter’s job. It’s ridiculous, in a way, but it’s true. For some reason, people sometimes don’t realize what reporters do is actually a job just like any other job. You do work, and you get paid for it.

On Monday, I am moving on from the world of journalism once again. I have a feeling the move will be permanent this time, but I thought that once before as well. The first time I left, though, I didn’t appreciate the job my coworkers were doing. This time, I leave with the utmost appreciation. Don’t take your local reporters for granted. They are a treasure you probably don’t even realize you have. My hat is off to all of them.

Leave a Reply