I am going to try to blog more often because I obviously don't write enough.
(meaning most moments in my case)
Journalism is in flux. Dying newspapers are allowing advertising to control their content to a degree that is, in this reporter's opinion, entirely inappropriate and misinformation is running amok as institutional knowledge is undervalued in favor of commercial flash and low-cost labor and journalism fetishists.
But these folks are entirely missing the point. News reporting is not a competition. It's an honor.
The job of a professional journalist is to provide the public with the information they need to form a more perfect union. That's it. It's not about us; it never was.
I pride myself on usually having "the scoop," but the reason I'm proud of that has nothing to do with me.
I already know my dreams are going to come true because I don't ever give up, work incredibly hard for what I have, truly enjoy what I do and truly care about the stories I write and the communities for whom I write them.
There's innate satisfaction that comes with being a good journalist; I don't have to worry about me.
I used to think garnering a degree in journalism wasn't worth the dough seeing as one learns most of the job by practicing it, but I was lucky enough to be instructed under "The Missouri Method," which teaches one journalism by practicing it and after my first five years in the business aka The Aftermath of a Great Recession meeting the World Wide Web of exponential technological advances, I now know the true value of my journalism degree.
I earned my degree in photojournalism - a specialized sequence nearly outdated by my 2010 graduation in favor of convergence training in all media forms - from the nation's very first journalism school
[ The University of Missouri's School of Journalism, 1908]
Mizzou ingrained in me not only the knowledge of how to expertly and ethically do the job of journalism, but a sense of real pride in doing exactly that.
It is because of what I learned there that I've never once done something untoward to get a story.
And I never will.
For me, speed has never been even close to as important as quality and ABOVE ALL ELSE accuracy in reporting news.
I think that's something my first editor, Peter Boody, one of our last true Newsmen, (quite similar to the dying breed of Bluesmen) respected about me.
It's certainly one of the things that I respect most about him, which gives me hope that others like me will reform the industry and see journalism returned to its former grandeur.
Peter didn't care much for the Non-tent the Web demanded; producing this frivolous nonsense was cutting into what precious time we had to do all the things one must to put out the Best Possible Newspaper each week.
I'm talking about working the beat by hunting the field:
Requesting the documents, attending the meetings, asking the questions, writing the lede, re-writing the lead, (see what I did there), checking the grammar (Mine is like nails on a chalkboard to Peter), cutting the fat (obviously not my strength), checking and collecting the sources (absolutely my strength), and above all else, FOLLOWING UP.
Peter Boody transformed me from a tail-chasing puppy dog -
(I was often referred to as the newsroom's puppy dog, which was only embarrassing because there was an actual dog in our newsroom)
- into a house-broken bloodhound flushing bunnies from the bushes along a tree line.
I'd been taught to couple enthusiasm with technique.
My presence was being accepted and enjoyed in one of the most insular communities I'd ever known, I'd befriended the town clerk and librarian, was getting colorful commentary from the Town Board (even following them to Yaphank for 2011's absentee ballot count, which reversed Glenn Waddington's initial third-party win as the Shelter Island Supervisor elect), knew all the gossip and welling controversies, pursued leads with such non-threatening aggression and true curiosity the Superintendent of School (singular) said I reminded him of Columbo, learned to maneuver office secretaries well enough to extract comments from wealthy second-home owners I'd hunted down to their 700th floor (slight exaggeration) Manhattan office compounds - And my photographs almost always ran in color.
I was still green as Kermit the Frog, but the flame for doing the job of journalism had never burned so brightly within me.
This is the type of rookie reporter Tim Kelly inherited when I was moved up to the Mothership Office in Mattituck, which I will henceforth refer to, most lovingly, as M.O.M.
A very serious one. Too serious.
Tim wasn't just weird and wonderful - and he wasn't just damn good at his job - Everyone absolutely freaking loved the guy, so he rarely had a problem uncovering the truth.
If my overactive news nose had caught a scent, he'd rock back in his creaky, unholy monster of a rolling chair, call up the highest, most credible possible source and, turning his pen end over end in his hands, find out the entire story in seconds.
And his columns were hilarious.
Tim Kelly took Peter's house-broken bloodhound flushing bunnies from bushes along the tree line and turned it into a highly-trained guard dog that spent all its off-time allowing the family toddler to pull at its whiskers.
Tim taught me how to laugh, and in turn, he taught me how to be an East Ender.
To be continued....
Over and out