Sometime next month, a day will slip by that marks the 40th anniversary of my more-or-less continual immersion in journalism.
When I started, the now-dead Terrace Herald was only two years past the end of hot lead typography (and I had enough earlier exposure to that to love the mixed smell of melting lead and printers ink). Earlier today, I was watching a new “newspaper video,” delivered to my phone.
Forty years. Twenty-six of them spent in small newsrooms, five running a home-based design and media company, and now 11 or so in the classroom. (Yeah, those numbers don’t add up; there was some overlap.)
I was both unfortunate and fortunate to come into the game without training. Unfortunate, because it meant a lot of sometimes hard learning and too many failings. Fortunate, because it meant I was constantly learning, trying and stretching. It seems to me, beyond the ability to research, write and verify, those three — learning, trying and stretching — may be the most important skills I ever learned.
Journalism has been good to me. It never made me rich or anything other than somewhat locally famous. But it put me together with a lot of talented, passionate people, and it still does, even if now I’ve never met a lot of them face-to-face. It has allowed me to create, to explore, to express, to help, to celebrate people and accomplishments large and small. It has taken me places I never would have gone.
I wasn’t always passionate about the craft over those 40 years, but I’m as passionate about it now as I ever was, in love with its successes and experiments, in awe of its accomplishments, impatient with its failings.
At 58, I should be benching myself in favour of young folk, of course. They are living the future in ways that I can’t, blazing trails that will take them places I may not see.
I’m not ready for the bench, though, and not only because I can’t afford to retire.
Journalism is still hard work and it’s still fun. Teaching skills and attitudes, exploring storytelling and staying immersed in the flow of innovation and experimentation is invigorating and challenging. I’m still deep into the learning, trying and stretching that has defined my newspaper and classroom work.
After 40 years, I can’t conceive of a life without journalism, then, now or going forward.
(Note: Thanks to everyone who has made the time I have spent wit journalism such an adventure and so enjoyable.)