From print to blog, uncomfortable change. Forty years ago, I delivered our weekly neighborhood newspaper. I wanted to be a journalist, but my mom discouraged me, saying it was a rat race. When I looked into graduate school journalism, my state university only offered courses in television journalism. When I lived in NY City, and worked for an insurance annuity company, headlines from corner newsboxes announced the earth-shaking developments of Watergate. Just emerging from my apartment to the street every day was a thrilling adventure as the headlines screamed: EHRLICHMANN AND HALDEMAN RESIGN.
Finally, some 45 years later, after working for trade journals, video production companies, medical labs, publishers and internet marketers, I got my “dream job” as editor of my small-town newspaper.
I covered County Council, School Board, Fire District, and local Plan Review Committee meetings regularly. Our “local” issues are national issues too — immigration arrests, the crisis in public education funding, the environment and water supply, employment and the cost of housing. Not to mention breaking news incidents of eco-terrorism, neo-Nazism and personal rescues. I also reported on local stories that inspire for a lifetime — innovative new businesses, cultural exchanges, highly-renowned music and writing festivals, sustainable farming, and graduation from high school, alternative schools, and trade schools.
When I was lucky enough to get a reporter, we covered sports and more of the above stories. When I didn’t have a reporter, I relied more on community press releases and regional wire services. The Sounder website continues to be plagued by technological glitches and dated postings from spotty archives.
Now, I watch a bit of CNN, and a bit of Fox on TV. Every Friday, I watch Washington Week (a panel of journalists) on PBS. I read the NY Times and the Seattle Times Business Digest online, often after printing the articles out. I regularly read the print version of my community’s newspaper, and that of our two neighboring communities. Whenever I travel, I read the community newspaper.
I began a local, personal blog on Orcas Issues — not print journalism, in that it contains my personal reflections on public and civic matters. The perspective and promise of traditional journalism — to present a comprehensive, accurate, fair view of what’s happening in the world — is conveyed better through good print journalism than through television or internet media. This applies to local, regional, national and international news coverage.
Would we know about the conflicts in the Near East, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan or the conditions at Walter Reed Hospital or the firing of U.S. Attorneys if it weren’t for national and international news coverage?
We need a free press to be a free country. The business model of print journalism supported by advertising needs to advance into a more accessible form than the corner newsstand or even home deliverty, but it also needs to be more comfortable than glued to an electronic computer screen or, heaven forbid, a handheld device with minscule print.